Earlier this month, Capital One took advantage of SXSW to announce its new banking chatbot named Eno (‘one’ spelled backwards). Eno is the first text-based chatbot from a US bank, whereas the majority of bots available today run on messenger platforms such as Facebook or Skype. This could prove advantageous for Capital One as a way to remove some friction from the chatbot experience and, perhaps, even give the feel of a more private and secure channel.

Capital One took to social media to announce Eno’s launch. On Twitter, Capital One introduced Eno as “the first natural language intelligent assistant from a US bank!” along with a video demonstration of how the chatbot works. Throughout the first day of SXSW, Capital One tweeted three more times specifically about Eno.

Like other artificial intelligence offerings, Eno is a virtual assistant that can respond to natural language text messages from customers. But in contrast to many other AI assistants, Eno is considered gender neutral, or as he/she likes to tell customers, it is “binary.” This is an interesting move by Capital One considering that most voice-first devices have been predominantly female (Alexa, Cortana, Siri, just to name a few). Bank of America made headlines last October when it released its chatbot, Erica, as a more proactive and recommendation-driven banking chatbot with a distinctly female name. (For more information on this female-dominated bot trend, clients can check out Mintel Comperemedia report, The Sisterhood of Artificial Intelligence.) 

30% of US consumers would like their banks to proactively text them with alerts

Another novelty of Eno that is standing out from the competition is its ability to communicate with emojis. This concept was first introduced by Domino’s when it let customers order a pizza just by sending the pizza emoji. Eno will respond to images such as a bag of money when a customer wants to check their balance, or a thumbs up to confirm payment on a credit card. In line with Mintel Trend ‘Without Words,’ rather than typing out long-form sentences, people are turning to visual communications such as emojis to express themselves.

Text and chatbot banking is not only growing in popularity because it is fast and convenient, but it allows banks to engage with their customers more frequently and provide pertinent information in real time. According to Mintel’s Mobile Banking US 2016 report, nearly a third of consumers would like their banks to proactively text them with alerts, and one in five would like text alerts when their balance is low.

What we think

As with anything driven by machine learning, it will take some time for Eno to learn more skills and it will continue to improve the more customers start to use it. Although speaking to your bank in emojis might be somewhat of a novelty for now, the more a bank can become part of a customer’s everyday routine, the more engaged that customer will be in products and services down the line.

As predicted in Mintel Comperemedia 2017 Financial Services Marketing Trend ‘Is Anybody Out There?’, banking is becoming more autonomous and mobile-centric; yet there is still a significant appetite for human interaction. The ability to perform basic, transaction-based functions on a mobile device will inherently change the purpose of and need for humans in the branch or customer service experiences over the phone.

Lily Harder is the Vice President of Research for Mintel Comperemedia. Lily specializes in the financial services industry, researching and presenting on the latest industry trends, competitive intelligence insights and newsworthy developments.

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