Chase's Digital Assistant could be a major value-add for mobile banking

  • The new mobile banking tool could simplify app navigation and streamline tasks.
  • And adding more timely, relevant capabilities tailored closely to customers' needs could boost its value further.
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Debuted last month, Chase's in-app virtual assistant will be rolled out in full throughout 2021. The Digital Assistant allows users to type out inquiries and commands related to balances; account and routing numbers; replacing, locking, and unlocking cards; and paying bills and transferring money, among other functions. The assistant will then provide answers or perform the requested actions.

Though in-app conversational AI assistants across major banks continue to gain abilities, they have yet to catch on with many customers. A conversational assistant housed in a banking app can enable 24/7 customer service, answer basic questions efficiently, and enhance overall engagement in the mobile app—but demand is low: Only 11% of mobile banking users who responded to Insider Intelligence's 2020 US Mobile Banking Competitive Edge survey called the ability to converse with a conversational AI assistant in the app "extremely valuable," making it the second least in-demand feature of the 42 included in the survey.

To spark interest, banks need to ensure their virtual assistants are streamlining customers' digital experience, instead of adding an unnecessary extra step in completing banking tasks—here are two ways Chase's Digital Assistant is delivering on this directive:

  • It can handle inquiries related to the pandemic. Allison Beer, head of digital at Chase, told Insider Intelligence that while the bank didn't change its product roadmap on account of the coronavirus crisis, it did add functionality to the Digital Assistant to help customers who may have been impacted by the pandemic's fallout. For example, customers could inquire about stimulus payments, change travel plans booked with rewards, or dispute transactions.
  • The Digital Assistant streamlines the navigability of the Chase mobile app. The assistant can simplify tasks within Chase's mobile banking app by allowing users to more easily search for and complete different capabilities, Beer told Insider Intelligence, noting that customers can utilize the tool to complete tasks like replacing or locking their card, checking account balances, or get help with an investment rollover.

As Chase rolls out the Digital Assistant more widely, it should continue adding timely capabilities to fulfill customer needs. Chase plans to add more features to the Digital Assistant next year, and as it iterates, it should follow the lead of competitors in delivering relevant features closely tailored to customers' needs.

Bank of America (BofA) for example, has seen success with its virtual assistant, Erica, which counts nearly 16 million users as of Q3 2020, up from 14.4 million in Q2. BofA has attributed that growth in large part to training the assistant to recognize 60,000 pandemic-related trends and inquiries, and upgrading Erica with the ability to provide information on Merrill Lynch portfolio balances and trading activity.

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