DBS launches chatbot on Facebook Messenger

By June this year, the close to five million DBS and POSB account holders will also be able to ask for their account balance, transfer funds and make card payments by chatting with the chatbot, a program that simulates human behaviour.
By June this year, the close to five million DBS and POSB account holders will also be able to ask for their account balance, transfer funds and make card payments by chatting with the chatbot, a program that simulates human behaviour.PHOTO: REUTERS

South-east Asia's largest bank DBS has rolled out its chatbot called "POSB digibank Virtual Assistant" on Facebook Messenger to let customers chat to the bank online.

Since its rollout last Friday, DBS said customers have asked about branch locations and foreign exchange rates.

By June this year, the close to five million DBS and POSB account holders will also be able to ask for their account balance, transfer funds and make card payments by chatting with the chatbot, a program that simulates human behaviour.

For instance, to check their bank balance, customers can type: "How much do I have?" By texting "Can you please pay my mobile bill?", the request will be processed, but not before identifying the correct payee.

The chatbot was developed with United States-based Kasisto, a spin-off from the brains behind Apple's voice assistant Siri.

DBS is the first bank in the region to launch a chatbot, although Japanese insurer Tokio Marine Life Insurance Singapore also uses a chatbot to supply insurance advisers with the latest relevant articles.

In a statement yesterday, DBS said all enquiries made to the chatbot so far were answered promptly without them being rerouted to the bank's customer centre.

"We know that our customers are spending time conversing on their favourite mobile messaging apps, and we are... making it easier and more convenient for them to engage us," said Mr Jeremy Soo, head of DBS Bank's consumer banking group for Singapore.

There are also plans to extend the chatbot service to other mobile messaging apps like WhatsApp and WeChat.

Irene Tham

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2017, with the headline 'DBS launches chatbot on Facebook Messenger'. Print Edition | Subscribe