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HSBC’s Amy and other soon-to-be released AI chatbots are about to change the way we bank

Some of the biggest banks in Hong Kong are catching up with the artificial intelligence rush by launching smart chatbots, in a bid to serve tech-savvy customers and cut costs in the long run.

HSBC Holdings, Standard Chartered, as well as Hang Seng Bank are among the biggest players who recently announced their launch of chatbots to serve customers.

Chatbots are machines which use AI technologies such as natural language processing to answer queries from customers. The lenders, however, want to give them a human touch which is why HSBC named its chatbot Amy, while Hang Seng Bank calls its virtual assistants HARO and DORI.

The move came as the city’s banking regulator, Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), launched a number of measures over the past two years to encourage local lenders to develop financial technology. Banks are encouraged to develop innovative products or technology to cut down operating costs and offer better service to customers.

Besides changing customer behaviour, chatbots are also supposed to cut costs while speeding up service. Chatbots will help save global banks more than US$8 billion per year by 2022, according to a report by Juniper Research. The report also estimates a chatbot inquiry will save around four minutes compared with traditional call centres.

With chatbots handling 80 per cent of inquiries, it should be much faster if one customer really needs to reach a human agent, said Paul Sin, consulting partner with Deloitte China and leader of Deloitte’s Asia-Pacific blockchain lab.

The corporate banking unit of HSBC, Hong Kong’s largest bank by assets, launched Amy, the first chatbot of its kind in the city, to answer basic questions such as how to open an account.

“When we take out our smartphone, we spend more time in text messaging through social media more than we use it as a phone. This is why we believe customers would like to use a chatbot,” Daniel Chan, head of business banking at HSBC Hong Kong…

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