CBA's quantum leap in AI evolution

To improve their human touch, global banks will increasingly turn to the quantum potential of artificial intelligence in the race to fill the vacuum created by the modern banking customer’s digital existence.

And leading the way, according to the latest research from Accenture, are Australian bankers, who entrust their futures in the revolutionary potential of AI more than anywhere else in the banking world.

Just this week, the Commonwealth Bank announced the development of a quantum computer simulator the bank said will offer Australian developers “a head start” on the massive step change in computing power promised by quantum processing.

“Our investment in quantum computing has a long-term focus,” David Whiteing, CBA’s chief information officer said. “It allows us to support Australian innovation that is world leading and that we believe will materially benefit our customers and shareholders over the next decade.”

Quantum computing will transform industries and aspects of the broader community, including the banking sector, Whiteing added.

The AI revolution

According to Accenture, almost nine out of every ten (87 per cent) of Accenture’s Australian banking respondents agree that “AI will revolutionise the way they gain information from and interact with customers”.

“This is above the global rate of 76 per cent,” according to Alan McIntyre, head of Accenture’s banking practice.

Published in the ‘Accenture Banking Technology Vision 2017’, the research reveals a global banking sector enamoured of AI’s customer relations upside, and is based on an international measurement of over 600 bankers, including interviews with industry leaders, experts and leading fintech voices.

According to Accenture, more than half of Australian bankers surveyed believe that AI is capable of becoming the face of their organization or brand.

Almost three-quarters (73 per cent) believe that by 2020, the majority of organisations in banking will deploy AI interfaces as their primary point for interacting with customers.

The digital touch

With the shift to digital reduces the volume of human contact but increases its importance, Accenture found six out of ten Australian bankers agree that despite the consequent increased flow of customer data and insights, banks still struggle to grasp a customer's needs and goals.

The report suggested that AI-enabled tools will ultimately “help banks identify consumer preferences and empower their workforces to react with insight and emotional intelligence”.

According to McIntyre, the diversifying needs and priorities of banking consumers’ are pushing financial services firms to redefine how they interact with customers and how best to conceive products and services to meet individuals’ needs.

“AI-enabled tools can help banks identify consumer preferences and empower their workforces to react with insight and emotional intelligence, which is essential for the development of meaningful consumer relationships,” McIntyre said.

“In traditional banks, basic transactions continue to migrate from physical to digital channels, leading to major changes as banks redesign their branch networks and enhance their digital footprint,” the report noted, adding that the challenge will be how quickly banks can go live with new technologies wholly incompatible with their existing IT infrastructure.

Choose wisely

Reflecting this, 73 per cent of Australian bankers agree that competitive advantage will not be determined by their organisation alone, but by the strength of their chosen partners and ecosystems.

According to the report the top reasons for introducing AI were to gain data analysis and insights (60 per cent), to increase productivity (59 per cent) and improve cost benefit savings (54 per cent).

According to CBA, with the emergence of big data as a field, any complete analysis of a future dataset of scope might take an existing computer decades or centuries to process, with a quantum computer the process can take seconds or minutes.

“It will be some time until the first quantum computer is built but the time for investment is now. It is important we are able to test and build today so we are ready for tomorrow,” Whiteing added.

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