Zurich Insurance Group Acquires Conversational AI Startup AlphaChat
Zurich Insurance Group is acquiring Estonian conversational AI startup AlphaChat to augment its customer service with virtual agents and chatbots for an unknown sum. The 150-year-old Zurich is the largest insurance provider in Switzerland and one of the largest worldwide, serving as the global umbrella company of major brands like Metlife and Farmers.
AlphaChat is known for building conversational AI that automates customer service. The Estonian startup launched a platform for identifying and interacting with customers. The voice and text-based AI is capable of carrying out transactions and communicating with customers using natural language. Zurich hopes to integrate that tech into its own portfolio to improve customer experiences and make interactions more efficient.
“Customer communications is increasingly moving to digital messaging channels. We are excited to join Zurich on their digital transformation journey,” AlphaChat CEO Indrek Vainu said. “Building on our first-class team and on the strength of our product Zurich is launching an Intelligent Automation Center of Excellence in Estonia where we focus on creating AI-powered messaging automation solutions for Zurich customers globally.”
Upgrading customer service with conversational AI is becoming a standard practice for businesses worldwide. A steady stream of acquisition and investment stories have flowed from that fact, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic’s shift in how people work. Microsoft’s nearly $20 billion acquisition of Nuance is easily the biggest number in the space, but the $70 million raised by Kore.ai, the $78.15 million scored by Yellow.ai, Shelf.io’s pickup of $52.5 million, and Gupshup collecting $100 million are just a few of the other recent standouts as the market expands. Zurich’s decision to bring that technology in-house to its many millions of customers in dozens of countries only cements how thoroughly the technology is becoming embedded in the industry.
“We have spent decades to learn how to communicate with computers through different programming languages. Now it is time for computers to learn how to have a personal conversation with all of us,” Zurich’s chief information and digital officer Ericson Chan said. “Natural language processing is key to further enhance customer experience, complementing human interaction in the most natural way. We are very pleased to have AlphaChat join Zurich to help us further advance our digital transformation.”