How AI is going to change the future of banking

Banking in the not-too-distant future is going to be unrecognisable to anyone who grew up before the 1990s. Back then, branches were the only way to do your banking, and they closed at 15:00 on weekdays, opened only until midday on a Saturday and never opened on a Sunday.

That experience is fortunately behind us, with Online Banking and the Nedbank Money app allowing you to transact anytime, anywhere. Banking today feels like it’s driven by revolutionary, cutting-edge technology, because it is. But it pales in comparison to what the future of banking will look like.

Intelligent digital assistance

The future service you’ll get from us will not only be digital, but intelligent too. We have already made significant progress in introducing AI technology to make your digital experience more efficient and seamless. That was our motivation to for launching Enbi, our AI chatbot assistant, more than a year ago. If you haven’t already, you should try asking Enbi some of your everyday banking questions.

Do you need to change your withdrawal or transfer limits? No problem, try telling Enbi: ‘I want to change my profile limits’. Enbi can take you directly to the profile management settings in the Money app so that you can change your limits. This is to ensure that your data is protected once you have logged in and helps ensure that your engagement with the chatbot assistant is tailored to your personal needs. And therein lies the secret to banking of the future: you’ll soon be telling digital assistants what you want to do instead of only asking for help to do it.

The AI technology driving these capabilities is constantly learning and being taught how to respond to different types of questions and inputs. However, you need to be logged in and authenticated on the Money app or Online Banking to transact or make any account changes. And because an assistant that can’t grasp the local lingo isn’t very useful, we’ve made sure that terms like ‘Send-iMali’ and many more are instantly recognised by Enbi.

We’ve also ensured that our chat channel is fully accessible to our visual- and hearing-impaired clients.

Intelligent self-service banking

As already illustrated, banking is evolving into a seamless experience in which you no longer ask to perform a task or complete a transaction: you’ll be in charge, with a guiding AI hand to help you. Don’t be surprised then when you’re able to transact, open and close accounts, and handle account queries all by initiating a chat with Enbi.


Within a year of launch, Enbi had helped to cut the number of live agent chats by more than half


And rather than a less-personalised experience, going forward the AI engine aims to provide more customised help based on your profile and past behaviour. A change in marital status, for example, would be the ideal time to prompt you to update your will and your insurance while offering you a banking package that better suits your new status. Just to be clear, that sort of functionality isn’t available via Enbi just yet, but it is a good example of the tasks AI is aspiring to automate in the future.

And even though self-service banking will be driven by these kinds of AI interactions, a human touch will never be far away. Enbi can predict the stress factors for our users and will know when you need human assistance. There’s also the Chat to agent button in the Enbi chat window in case your query is not being resolved to your liking. This will link you directly to one of our call centre agents, who will have a copy of the chat history so that you don’t have to explain again what you’re trying to resolve. #DigitalWhenYouNeedIt #HumanWhenYouWantIt

Predictive banking

Banking of the future will come into its own when transacting is truly seamless and effortless. Powered by AI and delivered by digital assistants like Enbi, you can expect your banking experience to become even more intuitive and frictionless. This future could include warnings if you deviate from your usual spending patterns, or suggestions on savings accounts better suited to your needs.

Enbi is constantly learning as it uses machine-learning techniques to figure out the best solution to common questions. However, human interaction is built into this learning process so that our engineers can analyse responses to ensure that they do indeed help to solve client queries.

It may be early days yet into this new digital future, but within a year of launch, Enbi had helped to cut the number of live agent chats by more than half. This is clear evidence that many basic queries are already being resolved by Enbi, freeing up call centre agents to deal with more complex queries.

Intelligent digital assistants might be taking their first tentative steps in 2022, but we can expect them to soon be running circles around the old way of banking. Quicker, more intuitive and more intelligent banking services lie just over the horizon.