Raiz launches chatbot in response to banking Royal Commission

Raiz Invest’s Ashlee chatbot will let you know if you can afford dinner tonight

Mobile micro-investing platform Raiz Invest has launched a chatbot in response to the financial services Royal Commission.

The ongoing Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services will result in fewer human advisers and higher costs, Raiz argues, leaving a gap in the market for cheaper financial advice.

That advice can be provided by virtual advisers like Raiz’s Ashlee bot, which launched this week, the company said.

“The Royal Commission into financial services will cause a significant reduction in the number of financial advisers and consultation costs will increase. The average Australian will find it more difficult and expensive to get financial advice,” said Raiz Invest managing director George Lucas.

“Ashlee is designed to fill part of this gap and will improve over time,” he added.

The Ashlee chatbot can answer specific questions about a user’s account or the financial markets and can also offer general customer support. It can answer questions like “How long to save $2000”; give tips based on an individual’s historic spending and income and give predictions on their future cash balance.

“She’ll even advise whether you can afford to go out for dinner by predicting your future cash balance based on historic spending patterns,” the company said.

Launched in 2016, the ASX-listed Raiz has 172,000 active monthly customers and $249 million funds under management.

Its user base skews towards the under-35 demographic, which was behind the decision to sit Ashlee within Facebook Messenger.

The bot was built in-house – leveraging Google’s natural language processor – over the last 18 months.

Integration with Google Assistant and Siri is in the works, Raiz said.

“Ashlee will help young Australians engage with their financial future by providing instant financial assistance when they need. This will give millennials the freedom to make better financial decisions for the future,” Lucas said.

“Improving financial confidence is a goal we’re passionate about at Raiz. We’re excited to see how we can further adopt AI and help our customers make better decisions. We strive to continually think up new and innovative ways to improve engagement with their savings, so they can meet their goals,” he added.

Over the last year Australia's major banks have been rolling out chatbots that offer financial assistance. Commonwealth Bank of Australia in January 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.

In September last year, NAB launched what it described as a “digital virtual banker” to assist its business customers while its subsidiary UBank launched a chatbot in 2017 based on IBM’s Watson cognitive computing 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.

Mercer Australia, a consultancy for superannuation and investments in December began giving financial advice to its customers on Facebook Messenger via its SuperBot bot.