Bank of America is Number One in New Patents for Financial Services, Upping Voice and AI Investment
The U.S. patent office granted Bank of America more new patents in 2018 than any other financial services institution according to the latest list from the Intellectual Property Owners Association. The 318 patents it was granted in 2018 cover a broad array of technological advancements and raise the total number of patents and applications held by the company to more than 3,500.
This is the seventh straight year that Bank of America has earned the top spot in its category, fueled by the global spread of the more than 5,000 inventors working for the company. Of the 2018 patents, more than half had some connection to artificial intelligence and related software like mobile banking and cybersecurity.
That includes the voice-activated virtual financial assistant, Erica, for which Bank of America holds 24 patents. Since it launched, Erica has garnered close to eight million users on the mobile app and has handled more than 55 million client requests since launching in 2018. The patents for Erica enable the virtual assistant to understand spoken requests and respond to speakers using natural language while helping users find features within nested menus through conversation.
Some of the other new patents Bank of America picked up apply voice technology in other ways. The company added new patents for voice authentication, as well as voice controls enabling people with disabilities to use digital banking services to its portfolio in the last year.
“Technology is important to banking and how we connect with our customers and clients,” Bank of America’s chief operations and technology officer Cathy Bessant said in a statement. “Our competitive advantage is driven by innovation and creativity. Patents allow us to protect our investment in new products and services and lead the industry in commercial application. “These results show that Bank of America’s employees are, in fact, inventors, not only leading the way in financial services, but also shaping the direction of the technology landscape overall.”
Bank Tech Expands
Bank of America’s investment in voice technology patents is not unique, despite having more patents than most banks. Capital One has its own voice assistant in its mobile app, as well as an Alexa skill for making payments, while TD Ameritrade became the first company to enable stock transactions through voice platforms. There’s also NatWest, a British bank, which recently ran a pilot for handling banking using Google Assistant and FIVE, a platform created by a group of credit unions working together to enable members to transfer funds and pay down loans through Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Bank of America will need to keep up its research pace to maintain its edge as technology and banking become ever more entwined.