DBS to let customers 'chat' to transact online

DBS has become the first bank in the region to announce its investment in chatbots, programs that simulate human behaviour.
DBS has become the first bank in the region to announce its investment in chatbots, programs that simulate human behaviour. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Online banking will soon be a "chat" away.

South-east Asia's largest bank DBS has become the first bank in the region to announce its investment in chatbots, programs that simulate human behaviour.

It is working with US-based Kasisto, a spin-off from the brains behind Apple's voice assistant Siri, to build a chatbot to allow customers to perform simple online banking transactions by "chatting" with the bank.

By year-end, customers in Singapore can access simple banking services on Facebook Messenger. There are also plans to extend the chatbot service to other mobile messaging apps like WhatsApp and WeChat.

To check their balance, customers simply type "How much do I have?"

By simply texting "Can you please pay my mobile bill?", the request will be processed, but not before identifying the correct payee.

"Customers can converse with their bank as they would their contacts, and we will handle the rest with a strong focus on security - it's that simple," said Sandeep Lal, DBS regional head of eBusiness, in a statement on Wednesday (Aug 17).

Kasisto's articifial intelligence technology, dubbed KAI, already powers a virtual assistant in the DBS digibank app, launched in India in April. The Singapore version was launched a month earlier but it does not have the virtual assistant.