Questions about Your Finances? Ask Varo Money’s Val
Varo Money announced it’s developing a chat bot for its mobile app. The San Francisco-based mobile-only banking startup, which is offering private-label banking services via The Bancorp, expects to launch “Val” early next year. “She” is part of a steady stream of chat bots that have been announced in 2016 by banks, merchants, tech companies and handset makers to improve customer loyalty, reduce costs and boost revenue, among other benefits.
With Val, Varo Money’s chat bot will serve as a digital money coach to help its customers gain greater control of their finances by providing them with personal recommendations about positive spending, savings and borrowing habits. The bot also can assist customers with account information, transactions, payments, budgets and goals. “Traditional banking practices do not offer customers financial education, whereas Val will provide 24/7 expert guidance in the privacy and convenience of a mobile app,” according to the announcement.
Varo Money partnered with New York City-based Kasisto to use its KAI Banking platform. Chat bots are artificial intelligence (AI) that respond like humans and Kasisto’s platform has been programmed to understand thousands of banking tasks and millions of banking sentences, according to the company. Kasisto also recently partnered with Mastercard, which announced in October that it’s launching a bot for client banks’ and merchants’ customers.
“The common thread here is ‘empowerment.’ We are transforming banking to improve the financial lives for a generation of consumers often overlooked by traditional banks,” said Colin Walsh, Varo CEO and cofounder.
Varo Money announced several partnerships for its mobile-only bank earlier this year, including The Bancorp, which supports its mobile checking and savings accounts, Galileo Processing Inc. to process transactions, Cachet Financial Solutions Inc. to provide mobile check deposit and Socure Inc. for digital ID verification.
In related news, India-based mobile services provider Mahindra Comviva announced a new version of its mobiquity Wallet to include a chat bot that will help banks that offer the wallet provide interactive and personalized service for customers. Initially, the wallet will offer chat bot-assisted payments services, with additional functions, such as context-driven interactions, to be introduced later, according to an announcement. Mahindra Comviva’s mobiquity Wallet could likely see a spike in popularity as the transaction volume of digital payments has increased since the Indian government outlawed two popular currency notes in November.