Last update: 28/04/2023

To learn, reason and solve problems are some of the skills associated with humans. Today there are computer applications capable of performing such tasks through artificial intelligence. The rapid expansion of this technology brings about a series of opportunities in different fields. In the banking sector it can be used to improve customer service, optimise loan approval processes and prevent non-performing loans, among other applications. At the same time, it is important to be aware of the many challenges that artificial intelligence poses.

A few years ago, artificial intelligence (AI) might have seemed very futuristic. Nowadays it's common to find tools and applications that are based on AI algorithms in different areas of our everyday life and with different purposes: content generation (known as generative AI and employed in chatbots such as Microsoft's Chat GPT and Google's Bard); computers that play chess and are capable of beating humans; digital personal assistants, navigation assistants that tell you the best route and thousands of other examples.

In general, AI is the development of systems capable of learning, planning or resolving problems in a way similar to humans. For an electronic device or software to have artificial intelligence, it needs data and algorithms that are capable of making decisions. It can receive the former via the internet, big data applications, or by connecting directly to other devices to exchange information. The latter, meanwhile, are a series of instructions with which they are programmed in order to create behaviours or patterns based on the different data they receive.

The growth in artificial intelligence is being driven mainly by disruptive technology such as machine learning, deep learning, big data and quantum computing. What sets AI apart from a standard IT program is that it can improve its own processes autonomously. In other words, it learns from previous tasks, without the need for human intervention. This is known as machine learning.

Imagine you have a robot vacuum. It is programmed to go around your house every day. It follows a map that it generated and stored using its integrated navigation system on day one (previous tasks). However, a few weeks later you decide to move some furniture around. The robot starts bumping into them, prompting it to automatically activate its navigation system to update the map (it makes a decision using the data received). That way since it has designed a new route it won't bump into the furniture next time.

Jens Hansen, General Manager EMEA - Data & AI at Microsoft talks about artificial intelligence and its applications.
Jens Hansen, General Manager EMEA - Data & AI at Microsoft talks about artificial intelligence and its applications.

The challenges of artificial intelligence

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AI is transforming our society and as it pushes the boundaries on what is human. For technology to serve people, and not the other way around, it is essential to promote the proper use of AI, taking into account key factors such as privacy, the attribution of responsibility for the actions of AI, the biases or prejudices in the design of the algorithms (related to potential discrimination= and the proper and respectful processing of data. To ensure responsible and sustainable artificial intelligence systems, it is essential to establish regulatory frameworks that foster the development of artificial intelligence systems that respect ethical principles and which look out for vulnerable groups, such as minors or persons with disabilities. 

Uses of artificial intelligence in banking

Different sectors are using the applications of AI to develop a new generation of products and services that are more personalised and better suited to the needs of individuals and businesses. In the banking sector, some of the ways that AI is used are:

Virtual assistants, also known as chatbots, are designed to answer everyday questions, provide information and give instructions on how to perform transactions. With this option, banks can guarantee access to customer service anytime, anywhere. This makes it easier to answer frequent questions, such as branch opening hours, the location of ATMs and how to freeze and unfreeze credit cards.

AI makes it possible to identify certain consumption patterns of users and can lead to automatic actions when suspicious bank transactions are detected. For example, if you live in one city and there is activity on your bank card in another city, it is possible to use data from the geolocation systems on your mobile phone to check your location, notify you of the activity and ask you to verify it. This helps prevent crimes such as identity theft involving cards. It is also useful for spotting fraudulent activity like money laundering by analysing and comparing different sources of information.

By using notifications on digital banking apps, it is possible to notify customers of upcoming transactions, such as a bill payment in a couple of days, or a car insurance payment in a few weeks. AI is able to examine spending habits and warn customers if they could run out of funds to meet said payments. This makes it possible to offer personalised care, encouraging better financial management and reducing the risk of running out of funds to meet upcoming payment obligations.

Using data such as age, income, expenditure, average balance and level of debt, among others, there are AI programs to automate decision-making when it comes to granting banking products such as loans or any other risk operation. This process makes it possible to reduce the time and resources needed, as well as to offer loans that are safer for both parties.

With the quantity and variety of devices able to connect to the internet, the Banking of Things is an infrastructure that is able to use the data it receives to offer services and make certain financial decisions. For example, a smart fridge is able to detect that the milk has run out or is about to run out and automatically place an order with an online store. For this, the device needs a built-in digital wallet or to be linked with a bank card.

Overall, AI contributes to improved protection for customers, improving bank services and products, and increasing the efficiency of transactions, among other things. AI has countless uses and its role in the technology sector is set to accelerate companies’ digital transformation.  Perhaps now that you have a better idea about what AI is, you don't associate it with futuristic robots anymore, but with devices and tools you already use and which help make everyday tasks a little easier without you even knowing.  

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