Wells Fargo Will Introduce New ‘Fargo’ Virtual Assistant in Upcoming Mobile App Relaunch
Wells Fargo is developing a new virtual assistant to go with its mobile banking app relaunch next year. The ‘Fargo’ virtual assistant will join the growing stable of bank-made conversational AIs as digital banking continues to see value in the technology.
The virtual assistant and digital relaunch are part of Wells Fargo’s ongoing tech development strategy. The app will have digital money transfer and other new services to go with the virtual assistant. The new mobile app is scheduled to launch early next year in tandem with a new website. The Fargo assistant will arrive later in the year. The bank is designing Fargo to augment the mobile app with the ability to answer banking questions and carry out some tasks by request instead of the user having to navigate the mobile app directly. A user could ask Fargo to pay bills or send money without tapping through the account and other steps. Fargo will also offer budgeting advice and pull up any historic transaction for the user.
“For many of our customers, Wells Fargo is the app. While face-to-face interactions make sense for more consultative financial moments in our customers’ lives, the majority of their day-to-day personal finance is done digitally,” Wells Fargo head of strategy, digital, and innovation Ather Williams III said in a statement. “Our strategic investments — both in our own technology and via collaboration with digital leaders — reflect our deep commitment to providing our customers an experience that reflects their expectations for intuitive, seamless, and personalized digital experiences.”
Wells Fargo is getting into a space where other banks have already seen a lot of benefits. For instance, U.S. Bank launched a voice assistant for its mobile app last year to allow users to carry out their banking requests using conversational language. And Bank of America saw its existing virtual assistant, Erica, become increasingly popular, tripling interactions over the last year to 104.6 million total. Credit unions are experimenting with AI too. Wisconsin’s Landmark Credit Union recently began working with conversational AI platform Clinc to create a virtual assistant, and Minnesota’s Wings Financial Credit Union has started to work with Nuance to add voice AI and vocal biometric security to its customers.
Wells Fargo’s head of consumer digital, Michelle Moore, helped Bank of America develop Erica before joining Wells Fargo last year, so the model seems clear. Wells Fargo is pushing the new app as a way of keeping the bank’s 27 million mobile customers happy and potentially attracting new customers. Digital banking is surging in popularity, the fastest of any channel in its history, according to Wells Fargo. In the third quarter of this year, mobile logins jumped 14% from the year before to 1.6 billion logins.
“Our customers live on their phones, accomplishing every task and planning their next important life moment all via digital. They expect their mobile banking app to mirror the same frictionless and time-saving experiences they get with other apps they use,” Moore said. “The rebuilt mobile app will not only deliver a more seamless experience for customers, but it will lay the foundation for a digital personal finance experience that pushes the whole industry forward as new features such as Fargo and others are added in 2022 and beyond.”