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HDFC Bank uses chatbots to foray into commerce on social media

Nupur Anand / Mumbai 27 Dec 16 | 07:26 PM

Next time you are on Facebook and you realise you need to recharge your phone instead of opening a separate page for it, you can chat with an HDFC Bank bot and complete your transaction.

The bank explains that this is their foray into the space with the help of social media; these chatbots (the term for a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the internet).can help you with transactions such as recharge, bill payment or booking a cab.

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"This will open conversational commerce and also help us in personalising a digital experience which otherwise is fairly impersonal. We did our research where we realised that not even the younger generation but even the older population is more comfortable with chatting instead of calling. Therefore, we thought chatbots would be important," said Nitin Chugh, head, digital banking, HDFC Bank.

These chatbots are powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and can imitate conversations like a human being; this helps in doing away with the need for contacting a call centre. To use this on Facebook Chat, you need to follow the bank's directions. The latter has tied up with Facebook and is also looking at tying up with Twitter, WeChat, etc. This chatbot has been developed for the bank by Niki.ai, an AI-based start-up where people such as Ratan Tata and Ronnie Screwvala have also invested.

Experts say that with the use of chatbots, banks can reduce the cost of keeping up with call centre and visits to branches might also reduce. In HDFC Bank's case, since this can also be used by the non-bank customers, it can help provide a sneak peek into their details such as contact number, transaction history, etc, which can be used by the bank to boost their customer base.

HDFC Bank and some other lenders are also working on introducing chatbots for banking purposes. For instance, Axis Bank has tied up with a financial technologies company that will help customers to chat through social media or their mobile banking application.

Other lenders are also relying on AI or software robotics to drive their banking technology. For instance, ICICI Bank has been using AI to perform tasks like generating customer IDs, updating addresses and mobile numbers, and resolving ATM-related queries.

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