NatWest AI chatbot to provide 'human interaction' amid mass branch … – The Telegraph

Bank’s upgraded digital assistant will be able to hold life-like conversations with customers
NatWest is to launch an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot that it claims will provide more human interaction to customers after closing hundreds of bank branches in recent years.
The bot, built using technology from IBM, will employ so-called “generative” AI technology, similar to that of ChatGPT, which can hold human-like conversations with customers looking for information about the bank.
The revamped chatbot will be known as Cora+, building on a current digital assistant that NatWest offers on its websites.
The company’s Cora+ bot will be able to explain details about products and services to customers in a conversational style, offering up links to useful information or services.
The expansion of its chatbot tool comes amid fears that AI bots will replace millions of office jobs. NatWest said it would still always be possible to speak to a customer services representative on the phone.
NatWest Group, which includes Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank, has shut down 1,314 branches since 2015, according to consumer group Which?. In September it confirmed it would close 143 locations across 2023 and 2024.
The FTSE 100 lender, which also owns the private bank Coutts, first launched Cora in 2018 as a question and answer bot. Customers can currently use it for queries such as checking recent transactions or requesting a new card. The updated bot will be able to answer more questions in a conversational style.
Wendy Redshaw, chief digital information officer at NatWest’s retail banking division, said the upgrade would “help make Cora feel even more ‘human’”.
Asked whether the expansion of its AI tools could ultimately impact jobs, a NatWest spokesman said: “That’s not the intent, we see AI in the future being used side-by-side with our colleagues to enhance productivity and the experience for customers.
“If Cora can’t help, customers will be referred to one of our colleagues for support.”
On the wider impact of AI, Paul Taylor, managing director at IBM, said: “Do we see wholesale replacement of roles? Not really, we see people using AI to augment what they do and do things better, rather than replace.”