02/20/2018

What Toy Stores Can Tell Banks about AI’s Influence on Future Customer Expectations

Alyssa Rock February 20th, 2018

Artificial intelligence really is a double-edged sword, isn’t it?

Our society views this technology with equal parts fear and fascination. Using machine-learning algorithms to analyze the unique genetic make up of a cancerous tumor and predict the best drug therapies is fascinating. But headlines that claim robots will steal a good chunk of jobs in the finance industry? Those words can elicit fear. Today’s financial services executives sit in the middle of this conundrum, and they have a lot of decisions to make, no matter what their stance is on AI. Leaders enamored with AI may be wondering where they should implement the capabilities first.

There are also many executives who may be on the fence. They acknowledge AI will be necessary to maintain a competitive edge, but fear and doubt serve as the basis for careful hesitancy. Is AI really necessary? Is the level of convenience that AI can provide excessive? What about those clients who prefer to interact with humans?

For the fence sitters, a trip to the toy store can provide some helpful insights.

Biometric Authentication: A Necessity?

One unfolding trend that is touching the financial services industry is that people are having a hard time remembering their passwords. Between my personal online accounts, work, and phone apps, I currently have at least 100 passwords. And I struggle to remember them.

A recent trip to Target confirmed I’m not alone in this struggle. Many retail companies have started hawking password diaries designed help our overloaded brains keep track of all the accounts. What is a password diary? It’s essentially a notebook where you write all of your passwords down. This concept may elicit some laughs from those who work in the financial services or technology industries, since we have all received our fair share of lectures about why it’s not a good idea keep a written record of your passwords at work.

We have reached one of many tipping points. Those who believe biometric authentication is a trend need to take a trip to the toy store. When they do, they will discover that their future client base is being socialized to expect and put more trust in biometric authentication.

Mattel Toy Company Password Journal 8 has a jumpstart on getting our next generation acclimated to the idea of voice-activated security. The toy promises parents that “their little techie will like keeping secrets safe.” The device will lock and only unlock when it hears the password. At least this toy is more secure than other password diaries.

After considering this toy, the biometric authentication concept starts to lose the flashy Hollywood sci-fi image and become something that offers better security that is simple and fast. As the world migrates to more online services (all of which require passwords), it is becoming something we actually need.

Biometric authentication provides an easy button and many banks are jumping on board, using some of the most unique aspect of our humanity that we can’t forget. The proliferation of account opening using our fingerprints, voice, facial features and even our heart beats¹, are all powered by AI. Biometric authentication provides the heavily regulated financial services industry with an easy button.

Personal Assistant Robots: Excessive?

But what about excessive technology? Remember the Apple iPhone commercial where the woman asks Siri if it’s raining outside?

You can hear the sound of rain in the background. She even has a large window that allows her to look outside and observe precipitation falling from the sky. I’ll admit this commercial elicited an eye roll from me because it seemed excessive.

Fast-forward to a recent New Year’s Eve party. I can’t tell you how many times I asked the gray cylinder microphone Alexa (pictured below) to play my favorite songs while we cooked dinner.

There are countless ways I could have played my favorite music – I didn’t need to have a robot do it for me. But wow, was it convenient. Like many others, I had consumed the artificial intelligence Kool-Aid.

It looks like some banks have consumed their fair share as well, and are testing the waters with robotic financial advisory services. But there is a difference between trusting a robot to play your favorite song and asking them where to invest.

You will find no shortage of online articles examining the trust factor of this new service. New research² indicates banking customers would choose to work with a human financial advisor, their friends, or go rogue and use the internet to make their own investment decisions before forking out their hard-earned money to a robot.

Distrust of the unfamiliar is to be human and human financial advisors are looking for ways to use this discomfort in their favor to differentiate themselves from their machine counterparts. For now, it appears that a middle-of-the road approach seems to be winning the most hearts and minds of financial services customers is complimentary robot services, with a human having the final say. Many industry experts are recommending segment specific marketing strategies for Baby Boomers and Millennials; as research indicates that Millennials are more comfortable and technologically savvy than Baby Boomers.

The trust factor may be out right now, but will it matter in the future?

A UK study³ found that survey respondents between the ages of 5 and 18 years old revealed that they expect to become friends with a robot in the future, and eight percent indicated that they speak to voice-activated assistants in the same manner as they would a friend.

A trip to the toy store shows that the next generation of personal assistant robots are being further personified and designed to be social. Many have their own names, and now they’re starting to shed their cylinder shapes for a more pleasing aesthetic. A robot manufactured by Blue Frog Robotics has a friendly, smiling face. The robot’s name is Buddy – and you don’t buy Buddy – you adopt Buddy to be your trusted family companion.

Personal assistant robots (or certain aspects of them, at least) that leverage AI may seem excessive (but fun) to today’s workforce. But that view may not be as widely shared by the banking’s future customers who grew up with Buddy the robot by their side.

A close, careful eye

Keeping a close, careful eye on AI is has become a new (albeit, unwritten) job requirement for financial industry executives. Those who sit on the fence can gain some much-needed insight on how to strategically adopt the right AI driven technologies for their organization by stepping back – way back.

It is essential for banks to find new and creative sources of insight regarding Artificial Intelligence – especially when it comes to leveraging these technologies to enhance the customer experience.

Here is how Deluxe Treasury Management Solutions is leveraging AI to help financial institutions and corporations achieve new levels of customer centricity when it comes to receivables management.


¹Bonderud, D. (2015, March 18). New heartbeat monitor could be a lifeline for bank authentication. Retrieved from https://securityintelligence.com/news/new-heartbeat-monitor-lifeline-bank-authentication/

²Gray, R. (2017, September 18). Children will soon want to ditch their human best friend to spend time with a ROBOT instead, scientist warns. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4895522/Children-soon-ditch-human-friends-robots.html

³Reuters. (2017, May 31). Bank customers don’t want robo-advisors making financial decisions for them. Retrieved from http://fortune.com/2017/05/30/bank-customers-robo-advisers/

Blue Frog Robotics. (2016). Retrieved from https://adoptbuddy.com/e

Mattel Toys & More. (2018). Retrieved from http://shop.mattel.com/shop/en-us/ms/my-password-journal/my-password-journal-ckt10

This content is accurate at the time of publication and may not be updated.