Bank of America debuted a virtual assistant bot today at Money2020, a fintech conference being held this week in Las Vegas.
Named Erica, the bot uses artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to learn your personal spending habits and offer helpful advice.
The bot will be available by voice command or plain text in Bank of America smartphone apps next year, according to CNBC.
Erica is designed to be not just a virtual assistant but each customer’s “personal advocate,” said Bank of America head of digital banking, Michelle Moore. It can tell you about your spending habits, notice if you spend more than usual on a certain product or category of products, present opportunities to reduce debt or save money, and alert you if your credit score dips. Links and videos are also provided to users so they can better understand financial terms, like the “FICO score.”
“We’ve spent a lot of time investing in better money habits with education and information for customers, and so now we’re going to integrate everything, all the capabilities that we’ve created into one digital assistant that acts on behalf of our 45 million households,” Moore said.
Erica may not be the bank’s last bot: Bank of America and Facebook announced plans in April to launch a BofA Facebook Messenger bot. A Messenger payments API beta began on Messenger in September, but a BofA Facebook Messenger bot is not yet available.
A report from consulting firm Forrester advised banks to avoid offering bots to customers for another two to three years. The tech and AI just isn’t there yet, a Forrester analyst argues, but several financial services companies appear to feel differently.
PayPal today announced an extension of its payment services on Facebook Messenger, and last week CapitalOne extended its Alexa skill that lets customers pay bills with their voice.
In China, institutions like China Merchant Bank allow banking with WeChat, while startups like Kasisto and IPSoft work with banks to provide bots for customers in Canada, Singapore, and Sweden.