UBank debuts AI-powered digital human for home loan applications

New 'Mia' agent is the third example of artificial intelligence in the banking group's customer engagement and service efforts

UBank has launched its third artificial intelligence-based customer assistance offering and what it claims is the first digital human home loan application assistant.

Dubbed ‘Mia’, short for my interactive agent, the new offering is built on digital human technology created by New Zealand company, FaceMe. It taps into IBM’s Watson AI engine and designed to help consumers answer real-time questions during the home loan application process.

Mia is designed to answer at least 300 common questions posted by customers about home loan applications. These could range, for example, from ‘what’s your current variable rate?’ to ‘what is classified as an expense?’.

Mia will be available online for a select group of UBank customers from later this month both online and via mobile devices. The digital avatar is being described as both smart and cheeky, with several jokes up her sleeve.

“By bringing Mia to life, we’re giving customer a whole new way to interact with their online home loan application and completely challenging the perception of a digital bank,” UBank CEO, Lee Hatton said.

Mia’s launch builds off the back of RoboChat, Ubank’s first chatbot aimed at helping customers with the home loan application process. The NAB subsidiary said its work on a one-stop information portal, RoboBrain, which launched last March, was another key step forward that paved the way for the debut of Mia in February.

The AI engine learns off search terms used, ratings applied, and via ongoing training with UBank experts. According to the banking group, 80 per cent of customers have said they’re happy to use RoboChat, with the technology answering more than 50,000 questions to date, or 86 questions daily since launch.

“We’re partnering with technology leaders all the time to build a diverse support ecosystem for our customers, and this partnership with FaceMe is a great example of this,” Hatton continued. “What we love about this opportunity with FaceMe is the change to innovate in the digital space.”

One of FaceMe’s other high-profile trials to date is Vai, a virtual assistant interface trialled by Auckland International Airport and aimed at taking some of the security screening load of officers during peak times by conducting simple biosecurity questions. It’s also the company behind a new digital human interface being built for Vodafone New Zealand aimed at again helping consumers with self-service support.  

“Our Vision is to enable leading companies like UBank to create more meaningful and valuable experiences for their customers,” said FaceMe CEO, Danny Tomsett. “Mia offers an emotionally connected experience for servicing customers making an exciting and important life decision.”

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