Conversational AI Startup Webio Closes $2.1M Funding Round
Conversational AI for contact centers developer Webio has closed a €1.5 million (around $2.1 million) funding round led by Finch Capital. The Irish startup provides a platform for contact centers to design the interactive AI customers hear when they call their bank, insurance company, or any other business Webio works with.
Webio was founded in 2016 with an eye on bringing conversational AI as it mushroomed in popularity to the usually technologically conservative financial space. The startup aims at making the interaction more pleasant for customers and not a stressor that makes customers dislike dealing with the financial services company. The low-stress philosophy also appears in the way Webi’s streamlined platform requires little or no coding to set up an AI. Once activated, the AI can chat with customers by text message, WhatsApp, and other messaging services as well as through a phone call or voice channels like Alexa and Google Assistant. Webio claims its AI can analyze language and emotional tone from a customer and steer the conversation accordingly to reach a point where the customer is satisfied. According to the startup, its messaging triples efficiency in interacting with customers compared to having people handle the texting and five times as efficient as having humans staff the phones.
“Businesses are moving from simple telephone systems to chat, messaging, and now to intelligent assistants. We will not only help customers with service issues but also help them execute transactions and make more informed choices,” Webio CEO Cormac O’Neill said in a statement. “This investment is another step in our strategic development plans to fundamentally change how this sector works. Conversations about money are hard, they can be difficult to understand, and they can be stressful. We believe that the industry is poised for change and that Webio will deliver a future where these difficult conversations are made easier and managed better.”
Webio cites the COVID-19 pandemic as one cause for the accelerating growth of AI for communications. The need for virtual customer service at a distance helped fuel a lot of funding and acquisition announcements over the last year. The biggest example being Microsoft’s nearly $20 billion acquisition of Nuance but plenty of smaller companies have seen relatively big checks come in like ASAPP’s $120 million in May and Hyro’s recent $10.5 million raise. Webio’s new funding will be used for improving its conversational AI technology and hiring people to expand the business. With the ongoing revolution in financial services tech post-pandemic, Webio’s investors want the startup to be the obvious solution for conversational AI.
“The credit and collections industry is ripe for disruption, its approach to its customers is outdated and the sector has been overlooked for far too long,” Finch Capital’s Mike Brennen said. “It’s an extremely large market which is set for significant growth, and we believe that as a specialist in this space, Webio is extremely well-positioned to lead the industry in a new direction where customer engagement across the debt cycle is a positive experience.”
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