Chatbots and biometrics point to a new wave of innovation in Latin American banking

Bogota, August 27th, 2018. – After years of stagnation, the analysis of the different technologies used by Latin American banks indicates a new outbreak of initiatives by financial institutions in the region to try to improve the customer experience, mainly via chatbots, some biometric chapters, and a considerable roll-out of new push channels. This and other conclusions have been unleashed from the Latinia Intelligentia annual report (Spanish version) published by the Catalan software vendor.

The report, carried out on an annual basis, and already in its 10th edition, analyzes the different channels in use by the 100 leading financial institutions in the region, adjusting for national quotas to include the largest number of economies. Regarding these, Argentina consolidates its steady progress over the last three years, with its banks having the highest accumulated growth. Colombia comes up in 2nd place and Mexico ranks 3rd. If we look at the number of mobile financial services by country, Mexican banks lead the rank with 4.7 services on average (out of 6 possible), along with Brazilian also with 4.7, and Argentinian closing the podium with 4.3. On the other hand, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Honduras have mimicked the behavior of the main economies, and its growth digits would disprove the myth that innovation is an issue strictly reserved to the banks from top economies.

“We can finally talk about innovation, one that is incremental, because its application has not performed yet up to the potential that it really holds, as are some biometric roll-outs, and the other more disruptive, which is the arrival of Artificial Intelligence to banking. Thanks to Chatbots, AI has experienced a dramatic growth in the past 12 months, thanks to the convenience provided by the main platforms (Facebook Messenger leads on this aspect, concentrating the largest number of initiatives). Chatbots and Social Media have followed opposite paths to reach the same goal; while social networks are born on the demand-side, chatbots approach from banking has been proactive. In both cases though, we need to decide what are the next steps to take, and this always causes some vertigo in such a conservative industry”, said Oriol Ros, marketing manager from the software vendor.

Social Networks, the other main characters in this study, have already become a space that, arousing curiosity at first, it has finally been assumed by its own virtues as a real channel in the bank-client relationship. Nowadays is still to be discovered how it should or could be exploited though.” The report offers two interesting conclusions beyond the merely quantitative. “We can certify that a high number of followers is not equal to their level of engagement with what has been published, and that the power of a national economy influences neither those followers’ engagement nor their preference for one social media network over another.”

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