Your Banker Is Always In: Sweden Rolls Out the Robots

Aida is the perfect employee: always courteous, always learning and, as she says, “always at work, 24/7, 365 days a year.”

Aida, of course, is not a person but a virtual customer-service representative that SEB AB, one of Sweden’s biggest banks, is rolling out. The goal is to give the actual humans more time to engage in more complex tasks.

After blazing a trail in online and digital banking, Sweden’s financial industry is now emerging as a pioneer in the use of artificial intelligence. Besides Aida at SEB, there’s Nova, which is a chatbot Nordea Bank AB is introducing at its life and pensions unit in Norway. Swedbank AB is adding to the skills of its virtual assistant, Nina. All three are designed to sound like women, based on research suggesting customers feel more comfortable with female voices.

“There are some frequent, simple tasks that we need to deal with manually today, and in that effort we’re looking into AI to see how we can deploy it, and Aida is one,” Johan Torgeby, the chief executive officer of SEB, said in an interview.

Chatbots have access to vast amounts of individual client data, meaning they can quickly handle straightforward customer requests. That in turn frees up human employees to deal with more complex services, like coming up with the best mortgage plan to suit a specific customer.

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