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 Barclays will be the first bank to employ chatbot in Africa to handle online banking queries

As part its efforts to become the most intelligent bank Barclays Africa, a subsidiary Absa, announced on Tuesday that it would pilot a chatbot that relies on artificial intelligence to simulate intelligent conversation through written or spoken text with customers online.

The pilot will be implemented within the coming few weeks, making it the first bank to do so in Africa.

“At Absa, we are constantly seeking new ways to be more relevant to our customers. By aligning our user-centric and big data expertise we are able to connect with our customers through channels that they are actively using,” said Yasaman Hadjibashi, Chief Data Officer at Barclays Africa.

The trial of the chatbots not only marks a transformation in the way the bank will engage with customers, but further underscores its efforts to become the most intelligent bank.

The fact that messaging apps continue to eclipse social media (as the conversational channel of choice in monthly active users) means that consumers are quickly adopting ‘smart’ two-way messaging apps as opposed to traditional, and more limited options such as SMS or email.

Jan Moganwa, Chief Executive of Personal & Business Customer Solutions at Barclays Africa, said that artificial intelligence enabled chatbots can answer simple customer questions quickly, freeing up staff to focus on more complex customer issues that require deeper human insight.

“Connecting with our customers is core to our business. Introducing chatbots at Absa provides greater ability to have relevant conversations with our customers, and provide immediate response,” says Moganwa.

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