By Shady Aziz
The face of the banking industry worldwide has undergone and is still undergoing a dramatic transformation as a result of the disruptive effects of mind-blowing digital advancements that have dominated the 21st century.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of these major disruptive and impactful technologies with powerful, game-changing influence.
The banking sector is expected to benefit the most from utilizing AI systems. Industry reports forecast that AI will save the banking community with more than $1 trillion by the year 2030. In the Middle East, the technology is predicted by PwC Middle East to contribute $ 320 billion to the region’s gross domestic product (GDP) during the same period.
With AI’s enormous potentials and amidst the growing demand for high-tech banking services from tech-savvy customers, a number of financial institutions are leaving no stones unturned in their quest for market leadership in the era of automation.
Take for instance the highly important area of enhanced customer experience. Financial institutions have been harnessing the power of AI to deliver efficient and personalized services to achieve higher client satisfaction level and, more importantly, win customer loyalty. Banks are now more empowered to predict customer behavioural patterns by leveraging innovative AI tools– a capability that allows for the delivery of customized products and services.
In terms of customer interaction, financial institutions are utilizing ‘chatbots’ applications acting as customer service agents. These apps are normally linked to popular live messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp and are equipped with the right features to effectively address customer queries sent via these portals.
They can also connect the customers to the right relationship officer for faster resolution of their concerns and issues. Some banks are already experimenting with chatbots to anticipate the needs of their clients.
AI-driven virtual assistant on its own can support customers in numerous tasks, including addressing incidents of stolen cards. In addition, this technology can efficiently address questions regarding ATM locations; branch opening hours; foreign currency rates; balance inquiry, transaction details, and many more.
Under this perspective, ArpuPlus is leveraging AI for customer care by investing in WhatsApp banking solution, which is a form of chatbot solution designed to address customer inquiries. Instead of a human-to-human interaction, this AI-enabled communication allows for faster access to information with just a touch of a button.
Besides improved customer service, AI also leads to lower operating expenses. In fact, industry experts believe that AI and other digital technologies can yield between 30-50 per cent savings in operating expenses.
The Arab region has taken an aggressive stance on AI adoption. Intensive efforts are especially evident in the UAE, where the AI technology is expected to account for almost 14 per cent of the country’s GDP by 2030 as per the report of PwC Middle East.
The country has also established the UAE Ministry of Artificial Intelligence as a reflection of its seriousness to join nations adopting the next-generation technology. Other biggest gainers in the region apart from the Emirates are Saudi Arabia (12.4 per cent), other GCC countries (8.2 per cent), and Egypt (7.7 per cent), according to the same study.
In Egypt, a growing number of companies have begun utilizing AI, which is considered the new wave after smart services. In fact, the technology is expected to boost the country’s efforts to shift to a knowledge-driven economy in line with the objectives of Egypt 2030.
The Egyptian Ministry of Communications has also announced its plan to establish the Academy of Artificial Intelligence in collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. The move is expected to drive innovation and capacity building in the AI field in the country.
AI technology has arrived in the Arab region where the rate of adoption is steadily increasing. Banks are expected to keep up with this trend otherwise they face the risk of being left behind and becoming obsolete in today’s digital age.