With Finie, Apple’s Siri could transform banking

Imagine if you could use Siri to request a detailed breakdown of your bank accounts, or find and pay for financial products using Apple Pay.

It’s possible

A solution that does this was demonstrated at the Digital Money Forum at CES this year, when University of Michigan professor and Clinc CEO, Jason Mars discussed Finie. The software is a voice-activated financial assistant based on Clinc’s own proprietary AI.

The cloud-based technology that can be integrated into existing apps – Citi, Visa and Intuit are already working to put it inside their banking apps, which suggests the security of the service is ready for active use.

What it does

Finie lets users ask questions about their accounts using their voice:

  • “What did I spend in restaurants last month?”
  • “Can I afford to spend $289 on Nintendo’s new console?”
  • “How much did I spend in Lisbon last week?”
  • “How much am I earning?”

You can also engage in banking transactions, such as transferring money between accounts, or requesting spending advice.

Neural networking

Finie uses deep learning algorithms. They learn from what you do, and can answer complex questions like, “How much did I spend on Uber in Paris last month?”

The AI deployed in Finie is specialized. It was built to be really good at handling financial transactions but nothing else. "If you look at Apple's Siri or Google's Google Now, I think they try to give you one assistant that can do everything," co-founder, Lingjia Tang told Secondwave media.

Et tu, Siri?

Siri, Cortana, Google Now, Alexa and most other voice assistant technologies aren’t really specialized AI, instead they try to handle whatever questions are thrown at them.

In practice this means they are machine intelligence solutions that depend on users making specific, pre-programmed, requests.

Finie is different in that it teaches itself what it needs to learn in order to help you best. This move toward neural networking is an inevitable evolution for voice assistant technologies. They need to evolve beyond being dumb bots.

Smart finance

If Apple were to deploy technology like this within Siri it would be able to introduce a host of new features within Apple Pay, features that could help it in its unstated mission of transforming the financial industry, but you don’t need to wait for that to happen (or not). As established and new, challenger banks deploy Finie support within their apps you will be able to access such tools.

Beat the bank

The app is proof that the digital transformation of the financial sector is happening and that traditional banks are feeling it.

This automation of the financial services sector will eventually be recognized as an example of the impact of AI automation on employment, even though such solutions meet some genuinely felt banking customer needs they also erode the number of employment opportunities in the sector.

It won’t stop there, you can easily imagine using Finie in some form to enable you to ask your iPhone to file your tax return for you – bad news for accountants, but a welcome relief to many of us.

Apple Pay

The existence of Apple Pay proves Apple’s interest in mobile payments.

With the fintech sector undergoing such root and branch transformation, there seems little reason for the company not to push a little further into traditional services from that sector. People would welcome it -- 84 percent of the UK public agree that bankers are greedy and get paid too much.

Apple could do worse than to explore some of the business models emerging from the digital “challenger bank” sector, and may perhaps want to add a little Finie intelligence to its platform if it wants to continue its attempt to force banks to support Siri – and to extend into other service-related sectors.

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Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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