Yasaman Hadjibashi, Barclays Africa

Yasaman Hadjibashi, Barclays Africa

Barclays Africa is piloting a chatbot within the coming few weeks, making it the “first bank” to do so in Africa.

The chatbots will use artificial intelligence (AI) to simulate “intelligent conversation” through written or spoken text.

Yasaman Hadjibashi, chief data officer at Barclays Africa, says the chatbot is a way to be “more relevant” to its customers.

The bank says messaging apps continue to eclipse social media (as the conversational channel of choice in monthly active users), which means consumers are quickly adopting “smart” two-way messaging apps as opposed to traditional, and more limited options such as SMS or email.

According to Jan Moganwa, chief executive of personal and business customer solutions at Barclays Africa, AI-enabled chatbots can answer simple customer questions “quickly”, freeing up staff to focus on more “complex customer issues that require deeper human insight”.

AI at RBS for TLC

There has been a marked rise in the use of AI in banking.

In the UK, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) recently installed advanced “human” AI to help its staff answer customer queries.

The bank says a two month trial was “successful “and the AI, known as ‘Luvo’, is to be rolled out more widely to support employees, and perhaps bring some tender loving care (TLC) with it.

Out of Africa

From AI to bye.

Earlier this year, Barclays announced it was leaving Africa as it looks to consolidate the group and increase shareholder returns after a 2% drop in full-year profit.

The bank will sell its 62% stake in Barclays Africa over the coming few years and then focus on two divisions – Barclays UK and Barclays Corporate and International.