"Hey, Erica, Make Me an Offer"

By Kevin Flanagan, Marketing Director, Micronotes

This week, Bank of America issued a news release touting that Erica, its digital banking assistant, completed 50 million requests for 7 million BofA digital banking users in its first year of operation. The announcement was picked up by many media outlets over the next few days.

Those big numbers are not surprising, given that Bank of America is one of the world’s largest banks.

But, if you dig deeper into this story, one thing stands out: Erica is very good at responding to customer requests, but there’s no mention of Erica being able to initiate conversations or make personalized offers to those 7 million customers. In other words, Erica’s sole function is to respond to questions from people about their personal finances.

Now, I’m not saying this type of engagement isn’t valuable, wouldn’t it be more valuable to Bank of America, or any bank or credit union, if they could use artificial intelligence machine learning to begin conversations with digital users? And I don’t mean just starting a conversation with “Hello” or “How may I help you?”

What if financial institutions had a platform that could really engage with digital banking users by using predictive analytics to anticipate our needs and make personalized offers?

Whenever we log in to the website or mobile app of our bank or credit union, the institution knows who we are and has our financial details handy. That’s how we can make deposits, transfers, pay bills and all the other tasks we perform.

But wouldn’t it be more useful to the institution—and to us—if our bank or credit union could use our financial data to offer us a better deal on our checking account, or suggest we move some of the money we have in a low-yield savings account and into a higher-interest CD or money market account? Or what if there were an AI solution that knew we had a mortgage with our bank and could offer us a home equity line of credit? That would truly be a win-win for the bank and us.

I guess we’ll just have to wait for some innovative company to come along and develop an AI machine-learning platform that does more than just perform basic banking functions that we request. Until then, well, we’ve got Erica….