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By Richard Stevenson, CEO, Red Box

Richard Stevenson CEO Red Box - Finance Digest │ Financial Literacy │ Financial Planning

Richard Stevenson, CEO, Red Box

A key advantage of the financial sector is its willingness to adopt and embrace innovative technology. Many companies in the sector have pushed ahead of competitors by identifying a space for innovation. Whether crowdfunding, mobile banking technology or remittance technology, those that can spot problem-solving technology early have tended to flourish. Companies such as Klarna, Banking Circle or Wise have all used technological innovation to respond to consumer desires for smooth payments systems or greater flexibility in personal finance

Periods of significant change or trepidation can accelerate this process of innovation, often because companies become more open to change themselves, or because they are forced to adapt. AI holds the capacity to bring about the next generation of these innovations because it can help fintech companies and financial services to harness areas of their data which are often overlooked. 

One such area is voice data which captures much of the day-to-day operations of a business which happen not via electronic mediums, but through person-to-person conversation. The data held within the intricacies of conversation, voice and tone could give businesses a truly unique insight into the way they are running and could transform, as well as provide assistance when companies are faced with operating challenges.  

Over the past two years of pandemic, companies have also been presented with novel challenges relating to everyday processes and compliance. In numerous cases, it was the capacity of voice capturing artificial intelligence-based solutions that enabled them to continue to provide their offerings remotely. The door to innovation left ajar by those relying on AI to maintain operations throughout covid lockdowns will be thrust open by those companies willing to further invest in the capacity of this technology. It is these companies will be on the path to success in 2022. 

Safeguarding through uncertainty with AI

The initial imposition of Covid-19 lockdowns was the cause of significant angst from the financial sector regarding their capacity to maintain compliance levels amongst remote workers. Fortunately, 2020 saw some regulatory leniencies when it came to the requirements placed on firms to record and monitor all communications. 

Fast-forward to 2022, and these leniencies appear to have expired with the most recent guidance from the Financial Conduct Authority requiring in-office compliance standards at home – call recording, rigorous record keeping and maintaining protection from cyber-attacks must all be considered by companies’ compliance and security teams. Businesses and financial service providers are now presented with the need to implement rigorous oversight and recording procedures if they are to maintain the flexible working patterns many employees expect. 

AI is the not so hidden tool that can meet this challenge, and this is something many companies have come to recognise after nearly two-years of this pandemic. Only through AI and deep learning platforms can natural language processing take place to the extent that breaches are monitored, and security breaches minimised. This provides organisations with the ability to monitor conversations at scale and actively highlights the detection of a compliance risk in a recording or other form of communication.

Recent research shows that finance workers are ten times as likely to share inside information and make inappropriate comments during phone calls and video chats than over email and other text-based platforms. With call recording, AI and analytics technology, organisations can now ensure teams stay compliant by analysing voice conversations and spotting patterns and flagging potential issues.

This technology has already made a tangible difference to companies. HSBC recently reported that it has reduced telephone banking fraud by 50% by authenticating customers through their unique voice identifiers – a first-hand case of how AI enabled voice data analytics can be used to protect consumers and financial service providers alike.  

Harnessing the full potential of voice data 

Yet the benefits of voice data analytics are not just restricted to compliance and consumer protection, though the pandemic may have accelerated adoption in those areas. Voice technology is going to become even more important in how consumers interact with their banks and insurance providers. This trend is evidenced by the fact that over 50% of consumers in the US and UK now own a smart speaker, an estimated 128 million Americans use voice assistants, and voice assistant usage is growing globally in cars and other settings where interacting with a screen is less accessible.

This explosion in voice technology has fundamentally changed the way consumers interact with businesses in just a decade. Financial services must stay ahead of the curve and realise the capacity of AI in keeping customer records up to date and accurate whilst maintaining the high privacy standards demanded by regulators and consumers. Larger, more complex organisations such as banks should be considering these challenges and putting a roadmap in place to stay ahead of the transformations being driven by voice technology.

AI-powered voice analytics can also transform data sovereignty. It has become all too common for financial institutions and FinTechs to employ third party technology companies to capture, analyse and store their data. However, this handover – mostly to major technology giants – is unpopular with consumers and disadvantageous for companies. It siloes data with external parties preventing companies from utilising it to run AI programmes or in-house analytics which could be more beneficial in the long run.  

Open and ready access to voice data provides the potential for better learning because voice data so often holds the key for understanding and facilitating operational efficiencies. Just think of how many conversations occur within the day to day running of an organisation, not just via email but through calls. This is precisely the reason voice recordings have become so important from a compliance perspective, but truly innovative companies will also see the potential to garner actionable insights and learnings from these conversation on a wider operational scale. Taking back control of voice data through AI is the next step in this innovation. 

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