CBA launches virtual banking assistant

Ceba can assist with some 200 banking tasks from activating a card to making payments

Commonwealth Bank of Australia has launched an in-app and online chatbot named Ceba.

The bot can assist customers with more than 200 banking tasks such as activating a card, checking account balances, making payments, or getting cardless cash.

It is able to recognise around 60,000 different ways customers could ask for the banking tasks and “will eventually be able to tell customers what they are spending their money on”.

The bank said Ceba is set apart from other chatbots because it can carry out tasks rather than just explain how to do them.

“Banks are moving towards providing personalised and insightful online banking experiences for our customers, and artificial intelligence along with the powerful technology behind it sits at the centre of this shift,” said CBA executive general manager digital, Pete Steel.

“What’s exciting about Ceba is that it will be able to do the banking for our customers rather than just provide instructions on how to do it,” he added.

CBA told Computerworld the chatbot uses Nuance for "cognitive comprehension, AI capabilities and integration" and LivePerson for the "seamless chat handoff".

The chatbot is currently available to 20 per cent of NetBank customers and will be available to more than 6.2 million NetBank and CommBank app customers in the coming weeks. It will be rolled out more broadly in the coming months.

“As our customers increasingly transact online, we have continued to develop additional channels to respond to their preferences, and still be able to provide valuable and personalised banking experiences,” said Steel.

Digital banker

In September, NAB launched what it described as a “digital virtual banker” to assist its business customers.

The virtual assistant can answer more than 13,000 variations on more than 200 questions relating to business accounts, the bank said.

NAB subsidiary UBank launched a chatbot in May based on IBM’s Watson cognitive computing platform, and delivered to customers via LivePerson’s cloud-based LiveEngage platform.

Last year Westpac said it would introduce chatbots to assist customers with questions about products as well as internally to advise bankers on commonly asked questions.

The New Zealand arm of the bank is currently trialling a virtual assistant – named Wes – on its website to help customers with basic queries like locating ATMs and providing foreign exchange rate updates.

Westpac and NAB earlier this week revealed they had released ‘skills’ for Amazon's voice-activated Alexa service.