AI in Banking – An Analysis of America’s 7 Top Banks

“The seven leading U.S. commercial banks have prioritized strategic technological advancement with investments in AI applications to better service their customers, improve performance and increase revenue. The future of finance will be heavily influenced by emerging fintech and AI applications setting the stage for increasing competitiveness among the industry’s leading giants.

From our analysis of the top seven US banks, we’ve found an interesting but not surprising trend: It seems that larger banks (at the time of this writing) seem to have more robust AI applications in development and in use. This may reflect the tremendous difficulty of obtaining and retaining machine learning and AI talent. Companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook not only have a more alluring reputation for innovation, but they also have much higher profit-per-employee ratios, allowing them to shower top talent with higher salaries and excellent perks. It’s unlikely that even behemoths like JPMorgan Chase or Wells Fargo will be able to compete well against the tech giants in the AI talent war of the next decade.

In researching these seven firms, “chatbots” and “conversational interfaces” emerges as trends that seem to inspire enthusiasm and excitement in the banking world. It may very well be that more mundane business intelligence or cyber security will eat up most of the AI budget for these large banks, but it’s clear that chatbots have garnered the most excitement from the PR departments and spokespersons of the banking giants we researched.

Our research seems to indicate that the enthusiasm for conversational interfaces is indeed held by startups, not just Fortune 500 banks. Our own AI Executives Consumer Use Consensus shows “chatbots” as the most likely innovation of greatest consumer impact in the next five years.

Lastly, our research found a number of mentioned of top banks referring to AI as an “augmenting” force for their employees, not a “replacement.” To us, this seems to be a necessary move of the communications department, but a disingenuous way to describe AI’s potential impact on jobs, which will most likely involve both “augmenting” and replacing human beings outright.

Unlike many modern tech giants, old banks often have thousands of employees performing mundane paperwork and “legacy” processes, many of which may require complete elimination once machines can replace humans at the desk. Staff-heavy firms (including Accenture, who mostly echoed the same “augmentation” statement in our interview with their CTO) almost unanimously speak of AI in black-and-white terms.

We believe that the future involve a number of disruptive changes that banks (and indeed all modern economies) will have to prepare themselves for.”

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