Sibos 2018 interview: Parth Desai, Pelican – succeeding in the AI economy
For over twenty years, Pelican has pioneered the application of AI technology to enhance, streamline and secure the payments life-cycle and combat financial crime. We sit down with founder and CEO Parth Desai to discuss the challenges facing banks today.
As you know, the theme of Sibos 2018 is “Enabling the Digital Economy”. What do you see as the most significant trends and technologies that the banking sector needs to embrace to ensure successful digital transformation?
It is without a doubt that artificial intelligence (AI) is the primary enabling technology that the industry needs to embrace to successfully reappraise and transform their business models for today’s real-time economy. The unique capabilities of AI disciplines will be at the core of solutions to many of the challenges we face, from financial crime prevention to product innovation and truly personalised customer engagement.
How do you see banks deploying AI solutions to remain competitive with increased competition from new market entrants?
AI gives banks unprecedented ability to leverage to their advantage the historic and real-time transactional data they hold about their customers. This is significant in two major areas for the industry. Firstly, AI will continue to be used to enable process automation for improved business efficiency and cost reduction.
AI disciplines such as machine learning and natural language processing provide powerful tools that can be deployed to analyse information within transactions and reason over large data sets, providing real customer insight and understanding.
This unique insight is essential to detect unusual patterns of behaviour to combat payments fraud, a “real time forensics” capability that is far beyond the detective capacities of human operators.
The second, and arguably more exciting way organisations are utilising AI, is to gain competitive advantage through enhanced customer experience. AI technologies enable the extensive customer data sets that banks hold to be transformed into actionable business insight and intelligence.
With AI, banks can obtain what I call “customer cognizance” – that is, the ability to reason over data and to truly understand the needs of customers. AI then provides banks with the ability to translate this customer data into meaningful, enhancing and hyper-personalised services and benefits to customers in ways that will clearly differentiate them from their competitors.
For example, customer-centric services that involve voice recognition, natural language processing, machine learning and rule-based heuristic processing combined, can achieve powerful contextual understanding and proactively help both consumers and businesses achieve their objectives.
What do you see as the main changes that AI will cause to the banking industry?
One of the main and most visible changes will be the different ways banks will be able to communicate and engage with their customers. Through AI, banks will be able to engage with customers across the wide range of intelligent platforms and ambient devices consumers and businesses increasingly rely on, utilising voice and other emerging interfaces. Indeed several forward-thinking banks already support the mainstream voice platforms from Amazon, Google and Apple, to provide account balance enquiry and transaction initiation services for customers.
Perhaps less visible, will be the growing adoption of AI to combat the threats of financial crime, including payments fraud and trade-based money laundering. In financial crime compliance, machine learning and natural language processing can deliver dramatic reductions in false positives through AI self-learning capabilities.
How would you summarise the top three positive effects of AI on the banking industry?
Firstly, AI will continue to be used as a “nice-to-have” tool to increase processing efficiency and ensure the security of payments. Secondly, AI is a “must-have” technology in order to enhance the customer experience and increase customer loyalty through leveraging historic data to truly understand the behaviour and needs of customers. Finally, and perhaps most fundamentally, AI will enable banks to engage with and help their customers in a genuinely personalised manner, across a wide range of ambient interfaces. It is truly an exciting time for banks!
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