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CBA locks exclusive partnership with AI platform

The bank has become the Australian financial services partner and minority stakeholder of H2O.ai, bolstering its artificial intelligence capacity.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has entered an exclusive financial services partnership with Silicon Valley-based artificial intelligence (AI) company, H2O.ai.

The arrangement will see CBA become a minority stakeholder in the company, and will see the major bank introduce the H2O AI Cloud – a cloud-based machine learning platform – into its operations. 

According to CBA, the bank will provide the platform to its entire organisation, as well as gaining a “dedicated H2O.ai team of experts” to develop “new AI solutions within the bank”.

While it’s currently unclear how this arrangement will specifically interact with lending, CBA’s chief data and analytics officer, Dr Andrew McMullan, said that this announcement comes as the bank builds an AI-powered organisation to benefit its entire customer base. 

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“H2O.ai will also help us to better predict bills and forecast cash flows for both retail and business customers so they can plan ahead,” Dr McMullan added. 

“Customers want to be in control, and through the combination of our award winning app, powered by artificial intelligence, we can deliver products and services in the moment to manage unexpected expenses or irregular incomes.

“We are not just helping customers make better decisions about their finances, but also about how they can reduce and offset their energy usage and carbon emissions.” 

One report published by the AI firm in April 2020 titled “Mortgage and Lending Considerations During and After COVID-19” suggests that AI and machine learning could be utilised in the lending space to more efficiently determine mortgage and loan risk.   

H2O.ai founder and chief executive Sri Ambati added: “[CBA] and H2O.ai are led by our core belief that we can make the world better while serving our communities and customers with excellence.

He said that he believes that the CBA arrangement would not only unleash a “juggernaut of co-innovation in AI for payments” but also further democratise AI. 

“Our vision is not only to make CBA an AI superpower but make Australia an AI nation as we move to life after [COVID-19]. This will be fun.”

CBA CEO Matt Comyn added that he believes that this partnership will further differentiate and extend CBA’s artificial intelligence capability to “better anticipate customer needs, and reimagine products and digital experiences to meet those needs”. 

“This partnership will accelerate our ability to deliver a broader customer proposition through more personalised experiences, which delivers greater value for our customers,” Mr Comyn said.

Mr Comyn later added that this expansion of CBA and H2O.ai’s relationship would enable the bank to work with “some of the world’s best data scientists” while also developing data sets that will attract “top talent”.

“We see broad application for AI and machine learning technology right across our business – in operational processes, protecting customers from fraud, lending decisions, and risk management. It builds on the foundational data and analytics capabilities that Commonwealth Bank has developed over the past decade,” Mr Comyn said.

“We aspire to be the trusted partner at the centre of our customers’ financial lives. To do this in an increasingly digital world, artificial intelligence is playing an even more important role in delivering personalised and relevant experiences. 

“When these experiences drive demonstrably better outcomes for customers, this builds trust, confidence, and ultimately engagement – and the more our customers engage with us, the better we are able to anticipate their needs.”

CBA’s latest dive into the tech space follows the promised pivot made by the bank in May and comes less than one week after it confirmed that it would be soon offering its customers the ability to buy, sell and hold crypto assets through its banking app. 

It also arrives roughly one month after the bank confirmed a partnership with the carbon tracking fintech CoGo. 

[Related: CBA charges ahead with digital strategy]

CBA locks exclusive partnership with AI platform
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