“Ask Our Friendly AI!” Your credit union’s website is excitedly promoting their new chat bot, there to answer questions 24/7. “Cool, so how can it help me save money or time?” Whether they admit it or not, that’s what your members will be thinking. In some cases, such tech is fielding member requests without burdening traditional staff time. And their resolution rates can be similar to human representatives. What are you waiting for? Get Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and friends to every CU! (HAL is not welcome, sorry)

It’s not that simple. “AI” support agents are uniquely programmed to understand financial world terminology. Plus, computers don’t excel at interacting like a person, since we learn and process the world in a different way. One day, I’m certain this will no longer be the case, and all systems will talk to each other in the background, so you could ask Siri (remember that post?) to transfer money from one account to another, explain the tax implications of your specific IRA contributions, and what the score is for your favorite team. But we’re not at that point…yet. And look who spoke too soon…we’re actually getting awfully close.

Readers know my passion (that’s 3 links!) for the “AI Revolution”. With its arrival, a lot of ideas are being thrown around on best use. Right now, the most common answer is: Everywhere!!!

Patience, my young Padawan. A fancy chat bot might seem like the natural first step, but let’s look at it from a member benefit perspective. If they have a question, they don’t care who/what responds. They just want a quick and accurate answer. If your team is currently able to keep members served quickly and effectively (through any medium they contact), then this may not be a fit for you at this time. Unless you have unlimited resources, in which case, yes, do all of this at once. Just make sure you have top-notch project management to ensure the focus is always on the unified credit union goals.

For the rest of us, the AI which makes the most sense, if less “sexy”, is the Big Data side of AI, the machine learning. Here, you have solutions which can analyze a member’s credit (beyond the report) and offer a rapid loan decision with high rate accuracy. You can implement systems to monitor patterns in spending to identify fraud the moment it occurs, saving the institution money and the member frustration. Machine learning is also enabling security of the body, biometrics. You know it as the fingerprint sensor on your phone, but facial recognition is also commonplace on new Windows 10 computers, while retina scanners are the “top level” of security at large financial institutions.

Speed. Savings. Security. Three great reasons to implement aspects of AI in your credit union. A recent post about this topic ended with a wonderful quote:

“When a bank…effectively uses AI, they run more efficiently and are able to connect more effectively with a segment of the population that will never be replaced by machines: their customers.” – Mohit Joshi, Innovations in FinTech

Ok, ok.  I’ve given you way too much to consider.  AI, Big Data, machine learning, algorithmic analysis…yeah, I get it.  Overwhelming when you just want to know, “can this stuff help my credit union?”  So, I had a realization right after writing this post.  Remember that series I did about tech in the financial industry?  As part of it, I mentioned that financial institutions are at risk of becoming “dumb banks” in the same way that ISPs are “dumb pipes”, simply being the corridor for other companies’ information.  You hold the money, but your members use other company services to move, spend, invest, even check on their funds.   The same is the case here with AI.

There will always be a place for information as you manage it now: Raw account balances aren’t going anywhere.  But that’s “dumb data”.  The future is in “smart data”.  Where your credit union and members can find patterns in spending, opportunities in lending, and personalized recommendations for minimizing debt (or maximizing wealth).

How will you become the “smart data” of the future?