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UBank launches AI mortgage application assistant

A new artificial intelligence-powered mortgage application assistant will soon be able to answer customer questions in natural language, UBank has announced.

UBank has revealed that its new AI-powered digital home loan application assistant, called Mia (short for My Interactive Agent), will start answering more than 300 common customer questions in real time from late February.

The NAB subsidiary, which worked with FaceMe to develop Mia, said customers will be able to converse in natural language with the AI assistant via their desktop or mobile devices at any time about their mortgage applications. For example, customers could ask about what the variable rate of a loan is or what classifies as an expense.

UBank CEO Lee Hatton commented: “We want to continue attracting customers but maintaining the same number of team members to support this ever-growing customer base.

“That means we need to leverage key technologies like AI to tackle the typical questions customers ask, so we can free up our team to address the unique situations our customers need more support with, every day.”

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UBank described the assistant as “cheeky”, using GIFs and animations during chats.  

“Her persona was crafted with the customer in mind – they want to talk to someone smart, empathetic, trustworthy and someone that doesn’t use bank jargon,” the digital bank stated in its announcement.

The digital bank claimed that Mia “represents a leap forward in chatbot technology and gives a digital face to UBank’s home loan experience”.

“By bringing Mia to life, we’re giving customers a whole new way to interact with their online home loan application and completely challenging the perception of a digital bank,” Ms Hatton said.

Mia is not the bank’s first AI project. In March last year, UBank unveiled RoboBrain, a “hyper-personalised” cognitive assistant designed specifically for the bank’s customer service team.

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Instead of sifting through the bank’s various knowledge bases, employees are able to type in a question in natural language while on the phone or on LiveChat with a customer — such as “What was the interest rate in June 2011?” or “How do I set up a regular transfer?” — and find answers within approximately two seconds, according to UBank.

“In today’s world, we’re seeing more and more businesses move to offshore models, with customer service teams fragmented as a result. At UBank, all of our staff are based in Australia, which we know is important to our customers. With RoboBrain, we wanted to create technology that not only empowers our local team but also benefits our customers through innovation,” Ms Hatton previously said.

The NAB-owned bank also created a customer-facing chatbot RoboChat in 2017 aimed at making the mortgage application process easier for customers. The chatbot was created on the hypothesis that the easier the home loan application process, the greater the likelihood of customers completing their applications online.

UBank said last year that it had seen boosts in both the completion of home loan applications and RoboChat usage.

According to the digital bank, four in five customers said they are happy to use RoboChat, which has answered more than 50,000 questions thus far.

“Conversation is how we engage with customers — and it’s really important to us that we speak like humans, rather than a bank. Using conversational AI through IBM Watson enables us to find and share complex information in real time,” a UBank spokesperson told Mortgage Business last year.

“This not only improves efficiency for our people but also improves the total customer experience, helping us to achieve our vision of becoming Australia’s most referred brand.”

Mia will initially be available to a selection of customers applying for a UBank home loan. Upon completion of the pilot program, the assistant will be accessible to all customers seeking help during the mortgage application process.

[Related: UBank sees uplift in completed loan applications through AI]

UBank launches AI mortgage application assistant
UBank
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