Citi beta launches AI chatbot

Citi has beta launched a banking chatbot on Facebook Messenger that is capable of providing customer account information to users.

Dubbed Citi Bot, the chatbot will make its debut in the Singapore market and be progressively introduced to the wider Asia Pacific region in the coming months. The chatbot’s launch is a world-first for Citi in a social media network.

Citi Bot operates using natural language processing, a branch of artificial intelligence that concerns programming computers to understand the nuances of human language.

An in-house customer experience team at Citi was in charge of the the interaction and user experience aspect in Citi Bot’s development. Citi is aiming for the chatbot to interact with customers in a personable and intuitive manner, similar to how human conversation is conducted.

According to Citibank Singapore CEO Han Kwee Juan, the popular of Facebook Messenger deems it a suitable channel for Citi to engage its mobile and digitally savvy customers.

Features and security

Initially, Citi Bot will cater to basic banking queries such as checking of account balances and transactions, providing credit card bill summaries, rewards and point balances and answering frequently asked questions.

To make for a more seamless experience, external web pages that need to be accessed during a chat session will be opened within the same messenger window.

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The second phase of Citi Bot’s development is expected to introduce features such as card activation, transaction alerts and the ability to lock and unlock credit cards.

Customers wishing to use this service will have to first link their Facebook and Citi accounts to Citi Bot using the last 4 digits of their Citi cards on a secure Citi login page. Authentication will be performed via the input of a One-Time Password (OTP) and the answering of security questions.

As features get added progressively, more security layers may be added based on the perceived level of risk, Citi FinTech head of global consumer innovation labs John Hogue said.

Some 600 Citi customers and employees in Singapore will have initial access to Citi Bot, and this group of beta users will provide feedback as Citi makes incremental enhancements to the product before its planned commercial launch in Q4 this year.

In January this year, Singapore’s POSB Bank launched an AI-driven chatbot named POSB Virtual Assistant on Facebook Messenger, which customers can use to enquire about the bank’s products and services.

A chatbot named Jiffy Jane was launched end last month by Singapore-based insurance firm NTUC Income, which allows consumers to enquire about and purchase travel insurance instantly.

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