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Money20/20: reflections on day three – technology and customer experience

Day three of Money20/20 started with a focus on customer experience and how technology can help improve the way in which financial providers serve their users.

Cognizant painted an unflattering picture of the financial services industry, asserting that consumers’ relationship with money is broken. Money is the number one worry for 40% of consumers, often leading them to make poor financial decisions. However, providers can respond by using AI to analyze their clients’ social and financial data and build a detailed picture of their needs. By identifying the key financial moments in a customer’s life, a provider can meet their needs and create an emotional connection.

American Express outlined how it has used digital technology to improve the user experience. Customers can now access account information via Alexa and a Facebook Messenger-based chatbot, Ask Amex. In response to consumer demand, American Express has also built into its mobile app the ability for consumers to choose whether to pay off specific transactions in full each month or request that they are paid off in installments. These were cited as examples of how technology is being humanized, which is vital in an age when the need for a human element has grown in importance.

Next up, Intuit outlined the poor state of financial literacy and financial health in the US. Its research found that 44% of Americans would struggle to find $400 to pay for an emergency, and even that 49% of its own customers spend more than they earn. Consumer debt is growing at a far faster rate than incomes, and around half of Americans struggle with financial literacy. This situation places significant responsibility on financial providers to make it easier for consumers to manage their finances.

There followed an interesting panel discussion with IPsoft, Bank of America, HSBC, and Capital One about their experiences of building chatbots. Among the issues discussed was whether banks should use third-party platforms such as Facebook Messenger, as HSBC has done, or integrate their chatbots into their own apps, the path chosen by Bank of America. All the participants agreed that getting their chatbots to a consumer-ready state was a lengthy process, with the chatbots having to be trained via iterative methods to refine their responses to the variety of questions they will face.

The most striking observation came from Capital One’s Ken Dodelin. His experience is that customers relate to chatbots on an emotional level, often thanking them after their question has been answered. In his words: “You need a robot to bring the humanity back into banking.”

This was another insightful series of sessions, and it is clear that many financial providers understand the disconnect many millions of consumers have with their finances and financial providers. However, technology has the ability to return banking to an age where personal service was a given, with AI-driven data analysis able to provide high-quality tailored insights. Nevertheless, with many consumers facing problems due to challenging macroeconomic conditions there is only so much that even the most innovative of providers can do to ease the burden.

By Daoud Fakhri, Prinicipal Retail Banking Analyst

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