Bank of America’s Virtual Assistant Erica Explodes in Popularity
More Bank of America customers are using its virtual assistant, Erica, more and with greater frequency than ever before, according to the company’s latest financial reports. The last quarter and last year added enormously to Erica’s presence, coupled with improvements to the AI’s abilities that center it in the bank’s digital strategies.
Erica All Over
As seen in the chart above, the last year marked a growth spurt for Erica, easily outstripping previous growth. The virtual assistant’s total user base now counts more than 19.5 million clients, 7.3 million more than at the end of the same quarter last year. The number of interactions accelerated at a massive rate, too, with 105.6 million dwarfing the 27.8 million total the year before. Erica’s use just in the last quarter broke the bank’s records, jumping 198% in total interactions and adding more than 2 million clients during that time. Erica has answered more than 250 million questions since it launched.
A significant portion of the increase is undoubtedly a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and a drop in physical bank visits. Bank of America augmented Erica to understand more than 60,000 phrases and questions related to the virus and the bank’s plans in regards to the crisis a year ago and has updated it regularly as things changed, including additional answers about the federal stimulus. Combined with regular improvements since its 2018 launch, Erica now boasts a way to respond to more than a million unique financial questions, quadruple the initial number. Erica earned Bank of America a Celent Model Bank award last month.
“When we design or enhance a product or service, including Erica, we are guided by a deep understanding of our clients’ needs and what capabilities will help them to lead better financial lives,” Bank of America CIO Aditya Bhasin said at the time. “We strive to ensure our client journeys are smart and seamless, no matter where or how they choose to interact with us.”
Bank of America has made its digital advances the centerpiece of much of its work. The bank highlighted breaking its record for new patents last year. The 444 granted patents and 722 applications, among the most in the financial industry, put the bank at 4,400 patents total, held and filed. Erica added improved command dialogue software, but the patents and innovation aren’t solely built around Erica. The bank’s Life Plan uses predictive AI to personalize financial advice, and there’s a new AI-powered error check that shares recommendations to a client service representative as they work with a customer.
Bank of America isn’t alone in exploring new ways to apply AI and virtual assistants. U.S. Bank launched a voice assistant last summer, and Russia’s Tinkoff Bank has been promoting its Oleg voice assistant for a while. There are also companies using existing voice assistants, such as the Alexa and Google Assistant voice apps created by ICICI, one of India’s largest private banks. Meanwhile, Russian banking giant Sberbank made voice AI its main product, transforming its focus from finance to tech, with a smart display and voice assistant now on sale.