Active.ai creates an omni-channel platform for banks to improve customer engagementAparajita Choudhury
The Singapore-headquartered startup has recently partnered with Infosys Finacle, part of EdgeVerve Systems, to enable financial institutions to offer conversational banking services through chat and voice-based interfaces across their digital channels.
Had Shankar Narayan not lost his wallet while on an international trip, he would not have experienced firsthand a glaring shortcoming in the 'anywhere banking' concept.
An endless IVR menu and a clogged network that foiled his frantic efforts to reach his bank and get his cards blocked had him thinking of simpler ways to reach the bank's customer care. Later, discussions with his friends Ravi Shankar and Parikshit Paspulati metamorphosed into the idea for Active.ai, which they launched in February 2016.
The three, who have a wealth of experience in banking and fintech—they have founded companies in mobile banking and worked with the startup teams of leading banks in Asia—are seeking to simplify anywhere banking using voice or messaging over natural channels of customers engagement, like popular messaging channels, SMS, web, or even IoT devices, through the application of artificial intelligence (AI).
Active.ai has built an AI product platform that can be delivered on-premise or on the cloud. It natural language processing and machine learning algorithms, enables banks to effectively engage with their customers in solving complex issues. Says Ravi,
We connect to banks via API’s. Our platform enables banks to reach out to customers in a very friendly, natural, and cost-effective way. Banks are focusing on deploying our platform in an omni-channel manner via web, in App, on messaging channels like FB Messenger, or even on IoT devices like Alexa.
Active.ai has roped in Axis Bank as their first client. There are five other banks from India, South East Asia and the Americas that want to make use of its platform which will go live over the next three months.
“We shared our product vision with a few banks, prior to building our platform. Axis Bank team quickly spotted the opportunity and saw a future where AI will enable better customer interactions and they decided to partner with us as an anchor client,” says Ravi.
Active.ai follows a SaaS-based subscription model to generate revenue. However, Ravi refused to share the exact pricing citing company policy.
IDG Ventures India, Kalaari Capital funding
“Forty-three percent of worldwide mobile phone consumers with a bank account use mobile banking today. The new generations of banking customers are looking for easy, secure and seamless interaction with their financial services provider,” said Sanat Rao, Partner at IDG Ventures, in a statement announcing its investment in Active.ai.
Bala Srinivasa, Partner at Kalaari Capital, had noted that messaging-based mobile banking had become a strategic imperative for banks globally to enhance consumer experience and lower customer engagement costs.
Though headquartered in Singapore, Active.ai has an innovation lab in Bengaluru and an office in the US with a team of 35 members.
Tying up with Infosys Finacle
Active.ai has recently tied up with Infosys Finacle, which is a part of EdgeVerve Systems. The integration with Finacle will help financial institutions offer conversational banking services through chat and voice-based interfaces across their digital channels. The joint solution will also enable banks to harness artificial intelligence to automate and enhance customer experience.
The integrated solution will be delivered with pre-integrated banking services and pre-trained data models for banking services. End customers with the help of this solution can interact with software bots through voice and chat interface to access account information, pay bills, make transfers, and access several other banking services.
The solution will be available in multiple languages and will be offered through Finacle digital channels solutions such as Finacle Online Banking and Finacle Mobile Banking.
Many startups around the world and in India want to innovate in this space, and VCs too are swooping in to invest in AI-powered startups.
According to a report from CB Insights, over 550 startups using AI as a core part of their products have raised $5 billion in funding in 2016. Since 2012, deals involving AI startups have been on the rise, and 2016 was a record year for startups globally. The US accounts for about 61 percent of the funds raised, while India is fifth on the list, at 3.5 percent.