Wells Fargo & Company is testing a "chatbot", an automated program that can communicate with the bank's customers on Facebook's messaging platform to give them information on their accounts and help them reset their passwords.
Wells Fargo's chatbot will use artificial intelligence to respond to natural language messages from users, such as how much money they have in their accounts, and where the nearest bank ATM is.
Chatbots have risen in popularity in finance and other industries over the past few months because recent improvements in artificial intelligence have made them better at interacting and interpreting human language.
Banks and other financial firms are hopeful chatbots can be used to provide better and continuous customer service at a fraction of the cost of large call centres populated by humans.
French bank Societe Generale, for example, recently revealed that it was working with start-up Personetics Technologies to develop chatbots that could answer queries about equity funds in its Romanian banking unit.
Money transfer start-up Transfer Wise in February launched a Facebook chatbot that enables customers to send money to friends and family internationally from Facebook Messenger.
In March US bank Capital One Financial Corp launched a chatbot named "Eno", which can answer questions on their recent account balances or help pay off credit card bills.
Wells Fargo's chatbot, which does not yet have a name, comes as the bank ramps up its development of artificial intelligence-based technology.
The world’s most valuable brands
The world’s most valuable brands
1/10 1st - Google
Google replaced Apple as the world’s most valuable brand, with a brand value of $109.5bn, according to Brand Finance
2/10 2nd - Apple
Apple’s brand value declined from $145.9bn to $107.1bn in 2016
3/10 3rd - Amazon
Amazon's brand value rose from $69.6bn to $106.4bn in 2016
4/10 4th - At&t
Of the 40 telecoms brands in the ranking, AT&T in 2016 overtook Verizon as the most valuable brand rising to $87bn from $59.9bn the year before
5/10 5th - Microsoft
Microsoft's brand value rose marginally from $67.3bn to $76.3bn in 2016
6/10 6th - Samsung
Amazon's brand value rose from $58.6bn to $66.2bn
7/10 7th - Verizon
Verizon's brand value inched up from $63.1bn to $65.9bn
8/10 8th - Walmart
Walmart's brand value rose from $53.6bn to $62.5bn
9/10 9th - Facebook
Facebook's brand value increased sharply from $34bn to just shy of $62bn
10/10 10th - ICBC
ICBC saw its brand value rise to $47.8bn from $36.3bn. It was the most valuabe financial brand in the world in 2016 replacing Wells Fargo
In February it created a dedicated AI team to create technology, such as the new chatbot, that can help the bank provide more personalized customer service through its bankers and online.
"AI technology allows us to take an experience that would have required our customers to navigate through several pages on our website, and turn it into a simple conversation in a chat environment," said Steve Ellis, head of Wells Fargo's Innovation Group, where the company's AI team is based.
Facebook opened up its Messenger app to developers to create chatbots in April 2016 in a bid to expand its reach in customer service and enterprise transactions.
- More about:
- Wells Fargo & Company
- artificial intelligence
- French bank Societe Generale
- natural language