With all due respect to the blockchain, 2016 may well be the year of the bot.
Bank Innovation reports that Finovate Best of Show winner Dyme has unveiled the first Facebook financial chatbot. The savings-related chatbot comes in a trio of tones (including the ever-popular “terrible parent” option) and while it is essentially the same as Dyme’s text-based savings solution, the company told Bank Innovation that the chatbot is part of the company’s plan to create a comprehensive set of messaging apps and services. Bank Innovation’s JJ Hornblass also praised the speed with which Dyme was able to put the chatbot app together, given that Facebook made specs available in April.
Pictured: Dyme founder Joseph Prather demonstrated his company’s text-message-based savings solution at FinovateFall 2015 in New York.
What exactly is a chatbot? A chatbot is a software program that communicates in text form with human users; as machine learning and artificial intelligence play a greater role on the back end, many of these technologies are being deployed on the front end. With chatbots, businesses are able to perceptively receive queries and deliver information to busy consumers through popular, recognizable formats and channels. The technology has its detractors who decry the lack of human contact in commerce, and is still very much a work-in-progress when confronted with real-world externalities as Microsoft learned with its embarrassing Tay experiment this spring. But there’s no doubt that the convergence of technology and convenience will drive innovation in chatbot development as it has in mobile banking, biometric authentication, and other areas.
Writing about the relationship between chatbots and financial services in March, our own Jim Bruene noted that while the technology is very effective in self-service applications, chatbots are also capable of handling transactions in general and the “repetitive routine ones typical of online/mobile banking sessions” in particular. “If you think of online banking via a PC as digital banking 1.0, and mobile as digital banking 2.0, then the upcoming invisible UI … using chatbots, AI and machine learning could very well be version 3.0,” Bruene wrote.
Founded in 2014 and headquartered in San Francisco, Dyme demoed its text-message-based savings technology at FinovateFall 2015. The company was featured in Benzinga’s “3 Ways Fintech Companies Can Help You Save” and is currently in the spring cohort of the fintech accelerator of Bank Innovation INV.