First Qatari Banking Virtual Assistant Debuts
Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) has launched the first banking virtual assistant in the country as a pilot program on its website. The new Zaki conversational AI handles transactions and answers questions in both English and Arabic, and the bank has outlined ambitious plans to expand its presence and capabilities, part of the rising trend of banks applying AI to their customer service.
Zaki, which translates to intelligent or smart in English, now pops up on the QIB website and can answer questions about the bank and what customers can do. The interactions are limited to text at the moment, but an Arabic and English-speaking voice version of Zaki is in the works, according to QIB. The chatbot will also get integrated into the QIB mobile app as the bank refines the AI. There are also plans to make the AI a virtual bank teller, capable of carrying out transactions when asked on its own, instead of just telling the user what steps they should take to accomplish their goals.
“We are proud to launch Qatar’s first conversational AI banking service in Qatar, enriching our banking services, and demonstrating our innovative approach to cater to the needs of our customers. Zaki lays a strong foundation for artificial intelligence-based voice and chat enabled ‘conversational banking,'” QIB general manager D. Anand said in a statement. “Customers will always remain at the heart of our business. As we continue to progress by deploying new and innovative digital solutions and technologies, we remain customer-centric throughout. This conversational AI banking service is another testament to QIB’s leadership in digital banking in Qatar and beyond, as we thrive to continuously digitalize, simplify, and personalize the banking experience for our existing and prospective customers.”
Banking on the Future
The long-term value of voice and AI banking is very evident in the U.S. as well. Bank of America recently reported that its virtual assistant Erica is more popular and used more often than ever. And U.S. Bank last year launched a voice assistant for its mobile app to allows users to carry out their banking requests using conversational language. , imitating the experience of talking to a bank teller.
As the QIB release indicates banking with conversational AI is very much an international trend as well. Sberbank just reported that more than a quarter of inquiries to a Kazakhstani call center are handled by a new bilingual voice assistant named Sabina that speaks both Russian and Kazakh. In Russian itself, Tinkoff Bank has been leveraging the use of its Oleg banking voice assistant to incorporate it into new arenas, including as a bot on Clubhouse.