Westpac invests in US AI start-up Kasisto

  • By Zilla Efrat

 

Westpac has taken its tie-up with Kasisto a step further by investing in the New York-based conversational AI start-up.

On Monday, Kasisto announced a US$15.5 million Series C extension, led in the United States by Fidelity Information Services and internationally by Westpac, with participation from BankSouth, a US Community Bank in Georgia. This brings the total Series C funding to US$31 million.

Westpac’s investment builds on a partnership it established with Kasisto in 2020 to boost its portfolio of AI-powered customer experience technology.

Westpac uses Kasisto’s KAI platform in its chatbots and intelligent digital assistants. With this additional funding, Kasisto plans to continue investing in product development, strategic go-to-market initiatives and the expansion of partnerships with top financial services providers.

Kasisto was launched in 2013 when the technology was seeded from Stanford Research International (which also seeded Apple Siri with the same core engine) to establish conversational AI specifically for banks.

“The cycles of innovation are getting faster and so too are the needs and expectations of our customers who want quick, intuitive and personalised service,” says Scott Collary, Westpac group executive, customer services and technology.

“While we’ve made considerable progress upgrading our core systems and capabilities, staying close to new and emerging technologies and partnering with industry innovators is equally important for delivering our digital-first strategy.”

Collary says chatbots have traditionally been built with singular purposes and objectives that often make them clunky or confusing.

“But the technology powering intelligent digital assistants is rapidly maturing, and we recognise its potential to completely transform the service experience,” he says.

“Kasisto’s technology has enabled us to evolve from traditional chatbots into a sophisticated, human-like conversational experience, unified for the first time under a single AI orchestration platform. This means customer queries will be answered more efficiently with reduced wait times and fewer hand-offs,” says Collary.

In 2018, Westpac introduced its first digital assistant supporting employees with home loan questions as well as its customer-facing digital assistant “Red”, which has already helped over 4.4 million customers.

In 2020, Westpac launched its first digital human “Wendy” to help younger customers with career advice and also partnered with Kasisto to improve its suite of chatbots and intelligent assistants.

Last year, it announced its digital assistant “Blue” which helps advisors and direct investors using BT’s wealth management platform. This year, it built a single orchestrating brain to centralise and handle all AI conversations with customers and employees.