Artificial intelligence (AI) is pervasive in the financial services world.  Banks, especially large ones, are spending millions of dollars on deploying AI into many facets of their businesses.  Self-service for the consumer and small business segments are areas where we see many AI applications being offered by the top retail banks.  Virtual assistants (VAs) like Bank of America’s “Erica,” Capital One’s “Eno” and Regions Banks’ “Reggie” allow customers to quickly find answers to questions and conduct banking via web and mobile channels.

Virtual Assistant Usage and Capabilities are on the Rise

The growth and proliferation of Virtual Assistants is apparent with the largest banks leading the way.  Bank of America’s “Erica” touts 17 million users to date with that number continuing to increase.  Without a doubt, we will see adoption continue to rapidly increase across all segments as customers gain confidence and trust in using this technology.  This is very evident as a recent story by The Financial Brand reports that satisfaction with virtual assistants is 92% overall. The activities customers are performing through the assistants span basic servicing activities to money movement to monitoring fraudulent activities.  The assistants are handling more complex use cases too. For example, Capital One’s “Eno” will monitor your accounts and automatically notify you about unusual charges, free trials and other activities that appear on the account.  Region’s “Reggie” will assist with basic servicing queries, but like most of the leading banks, has the ability to hand-off the interaction to a live human agent for a chat session or video call. In addition, “Erica” can find and sort transactions by category so you will know what you spent on groceries last week and how it compares to your normal spend.  

AI Levels the Playing Field for Community Financial Institutions

While big banks have large budgets to create their own AI applications, the long tail of the market, community banks and credit unions (CFIs), have to rely on their technology providers to address their needs.  When it comes to VA solutions, the good news for the CFIs is they can have offerings as good or better than what the big banks have created and offer – at a fraction of the cost.  Further, the CFIs don’t need to hire an army of developers and/or data scientists to manage and support this living technology because the VAs are based on machine learning and complex algorithms that are constantly getting smarter.  To offset the automatic learning that the technology is capable of, many Conversational AI/Banking providers (like also provide data curation as part of their offering to ensure that the VA is always growing its vocabulary and capabilities. 

A Conversational AI/Banking provider with a well-rounded product offering should also be able to offer a CFI a VA that fits their needs no matter where they are on their digital transformation journey. Whether it’s a simple FAQ-based bot that “bolts” on to the CFI’s public-facing website to handle unauthenticated questions or one that is fully-integrated into the CFI’s web and/or mobile banking platform that can tackle both common questions and authenticated banking transactions and seamlessly handoff to a human agent when the customer prefers to do so. Thanks to our relationship with Envestnet | Yodlee, our Virtual Financial Assistant even has the power to provide proactive insights regarding meaningful money matters that support financial wellness. 

Customer Loyalty & Operational Efficiency? It’s possible!

Many VAs come loaded with pre-built use cases, so immediately upon implementation, customers can gain tremendous value out of the experience…so much so, many will make the VA their own private banker.  On the flip side, because the VA has the power to deflect calls for very basic questions away from already overburdened contact centers, it allows contact center agents to spend more time with customers and handle more complex issues. All of this adds up to greater customer loyalty and cost savings for the CFI that will only continue to rise over time. While it may seem trivial, the biggest decision a CFI needs to make in this scenario is what to name their VA!  

Without a doubt, AI is here to stay (and will continue to evolve) and will provide those CFIs who deploy it with distinct strategic advantages as they compete in the new world of financial services. Those CFIs will benefit by allowing their customers to connect with them in an entirely new way. As customers in the past have evaluated a FI’s digital banking offerings to decide who to bank with, we will see the VA offering become an important factor in that decision.  Now CFIs can feel confident they will match up well with the mega banks they compete against in an ever-evolving digital world.

If you’re with a CFI interested in learning more about how a Virtual Financial Assistant can transform your digital banking experience, request a no-obligation demo/meeting here or contact us at

Jeff Weikert brings more than 30 years’ experience in the financial services industry to having held a variety of leadership positions for more than a half dozen leading organizations. Prior to joining in 2018 as Chief Strategy Officer, he served as President of Payveris.