UBank launches Australia’s first artificial intelligence chatbot for Home Loans

Alison Banney 15 May 2017 NEWS

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RoboChat is a virtual chatbot, trained to answer thousands of questions across 40 home loan topics in real time.

UBank has today unveiled RoboChat, Australia’s first artificial intelligence chatbot for home loans that will answer customer questions in real time to simplify the process of completing a home loan application.

RoboChat will be available as a virtual assistant within the home loan section of UBank’s website to help guide customers through the home loan application form, or help with general questions they may have.

Built with IBM Watson, RoboChat has been trained to respond in natural language to thousands of customer questions across 40 core home loan topics.

On-the-spot help will be provided for questions such as “what term do you offer on home loans” and “do you offer redraws and how do they work” to decrease the time needed to complete new applications.

The digital bank has ensured the bot doesn’t provide cold, direct responses but has a sense of humour. For example, if you ask, “how much does a hipster weigh?” it will respond “an Instagram”.

CEO of UBank Lee Hatton said the goal of the innovative new artificial intelligence chatbot is to make applying for a home loan simpler and more streamlined.

“If you’ve gathered all of your paperwork, the form can be completed in as little time as it takes you to have your breakfast,” Hatton said.

RoboChat

While chatbots may be a welcome innovation for customers struggling with home loan processes, the advent of artificial intelligence into more areas of society has many concerned for their own jobs.

Hatton ensured that the introduction of this new virtual assistant wouldn’t replace any of the physical customer service employees at the bank, but instead would work alongside the existing team.

“RoboChat will be a very welcome addition to our team of customer service experts. UBank will still have experienced staff on hand to chat on the phone, via email and our live online chat offering, RoboChat will provide an added option for those needing quick responses or those close to finalising the form,” he said.

We can expect to see more of these bots emerging as organisations realise their power and ability to transform the customer experience. Last year TransferWise's report revealed Australia to be the most "fintech-ready"country, with a quarter (26%) of Aussies expecting to use fintech for daily banking by 2020.

Vice president at IBM Watson Brock Douglas said more and more organisations are looking to virtual assistants to deepen the customer experience and increase productivity for employees.

“This year IBM Watson will engage with more than a billion people, across 20 industries. UBank’s work with IBM Watson is a powerful example of how organisations are leveraging cognitive virtual assistants that have the ability to engage in a conversation, ask questions, learn and respond in context – as opposed to providing stock responses,” said Douglas.

RoboChat is still in training using data from customer questions, and it will continue to learn and become more user-friendly as more customers engage with the bot.

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