Major financial institutions are leaping on board the bot bullet train, hoping to amp up their customer service. But smart digital leaders at smaller firms are learning that this generation of chatbots may not be ready for prime time — yet. Join our free VB Live event to start laying the foundation for the incoming leap in AI innovation.

Digital business leaders at banks have kept a keen eye on what their peers in other industries are doing. So it’s not surprising that the hype around bots on messaging platforms has caught their attention.

Mobile messaging’s popularity is what’s driving the chatbot revolution. In the U.S. alone, messaging volume grew by 100 percent in a single year on established platforms, and by 200 percent for newer players. More and more companies are seeing the value of meeting their customers where and when they prefer, which means developing bots as customer relationship platforms.

In March 2016, Amazon and Capital One announced that customers can now pay their bills just by talking to Amazon’s bot-enabled Alexa. Citi and Wells Fargo are reportedly also looking into harnessing Alexa for banking services.

And Bank of America is rolling out a bot on Facebook Messenger, as part of their broader strategy to increase convenience and value for their customers. And that’s not even touching on the number of Chinese banks with bots on WeChat, a platform supporting 650 million active users and tens of millions of companies.

And yet — while bots and the technologies that enable them are evolving rapidly, Forrester Research has found that the customer experiences they offer today are often either poor or inconsistent.

The problem is that for most financial institutions the infrastructure simply isn’t there. Bots can be only as good as the systems behind them, and outdated platforms, poor integration, or ineffective architecture will severely hinder chatbots.

Simply put: Bots aren’t quite ready to be bankers, and money is an area where people are least willing to put up with bot issues. If Taco Bell’s TacoBot orders three tacos instead of a quesadilla, the results are unlikely to be ruinous for the brand. But if a bot screws up a money transfer or doesn’t pay a bill, sending money three times or paying a bill wrong, the results will be catastrophic.

Bots and other AI-based services will improve — but banks won’t drive this evolution. Digital business leaders at banks need to hold off on rolling out chatbots for the next two to three years, using that time instead to invest in foundational digital initiatives, so that when the future of bots arrives, they’ll be right there to seize that potential.

Register now for our free and interactive VB Live event, featuring Senior Analyst Peter Wannemacher of Forrester Research, to find out what you need to do to harness the power of AI innovation in just three years.

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You’ll learn how to:

  • Re-engineer back-end systems to enable real-time action
  • Make progress on platform improvements — or replacements
  • Embrace APIs for faster, more dynamic future changes


  • Peter Wannemacher, Senior Analyst, Forrester Research
  • Katy Gibson, Vice President, Product Applications, Envestnet | Yodlee
  • Evan Schuman, Moderator, VentureBeat