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Financial services Westpac introduces its new AI recruit

Image by Westpac

Wed, 22 Apr 2020, 08:16 am UTC

Financial services Westpac has added a new recruit powered by artificial intelligence (AI) in its team.

Called Wendy, the virtual assistant recognizes and responds to the customers’ emotions as they chat onscreen through the webcam. If the customers smile at Wendy, she smiles back. If she senses that the customer is confused, she would empathize. Her eyes would also follow the customer as she listens and answers to their questions, Finextra reported.

Wendy’s ability to think is powered by IBM Watson’s AI conversation engine. Meanwhile, her listening and speaking skills use Goggle Cloud Services. On the other hand, her lifelike perceptive appearance is designed by New Zealand-based startup Soul Machines.

“Wendy allows us to accelerate our experimentation, and get deep into playing with emerging technologies to understand what works, what doesn’t, and what’s right for us as a bank,” said Annie Shu, Westpac's consumer bank innovation lead.

“Every aspect of what Wendy sees, what Wendy hears, what Wendy talks about, needs to be trained, and trained correctly so she learns and grows the right way. But the pace of her growth is really exciting,” she added.

Shu said that the creation of Wendy is more than just designing a digital human, but it also enables quick and continuous changes and updates. Wendy will be trained and eventually promoted to fill other financial education roles. At present, they would observe how people would react to her.

In 2018, Westpac announced that it successfully conducted a proof of concept (PoC) that combined four cutting-edge technologies – Data Analytics, AI, Internet of Things (IoT), and Blockchain – to automate trade.

“Working with the Westpac Institutional Bank team, we have prototyped solutions that modernized Ausreo’s supply chain and core IT systems,” said Andrew Groth, Senior Vice President, Regional Head – Australia & New Zealand Industry Head – Financial Services, Asia Pacific, Infosys.

“The beauty of these solutions is that it is inherently scalable by design. With componentised offerings, the solution can be tailored to meet individual client needs, by implementing one or several functions at a time.”

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