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Banking through Facebook Messenger? Alberta bank offers new service

Click to play video: 'Banking through Facebook Messenger? Alberta bank offers new service' Banking through Facebook Messenger? Alberta bank offers new service
WATCH ABOVE: A new innovation in banking will make paying a bill as simple as sending a text. ATB Financial is launching the service, making it the first bank in North America to do so. Emily Mertz has the details. – Feb 23, 2017

ATB Financial is unveiling new technology that will make banking as simple as sending a text to a friend.

The Alberta bank will be the first full-service financial institution in North America to facilitate payments using “chatbot technology” on Facebook Messenger.

“There are banks who have their own bot applications but we are the first in North America to have a bot application that actually allows customers to move money,” ATB manager of banking innovation, James Gamage, said.

READ MORE: From Messenger chatbots, to virtual reality tourism: Everything Facebook announced at F8 

ATB worked with Finn.ai to develop the artificial intelligence service, which will be available to a test group of customers in March.

People can use their mobile phones to send a quick message to check their account balance or pay a bill. Customers will also be able to ask questions about fees or where to find the closest ATM.

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“We’re aiming to transform banking,” Gamage said. “We aim to deliver service to customers where, when and how they want. Obviously, nowadays a lot of customers are spending a lot of time on social media and places such as Facebook Messenger.”

The developers took steps to ensure security and privacy, like only allowing payment transactions with recipients already selected through online banking.

“As a bank, we’re very focused on customer security and the security of our customer data,” Gamage said. “We explain the importance of them not sharing their Facebook Messenger credentials. We also explain the importance of them password-locking their phones. But also, we have authentication and security built into the application and, actually, the functionally we’ve limited so it’s only doing safe banking transactions to existing bill payees, for example.”

ATB and Finn.ai are working on making this style of “chat banking” available on other platforms as well, like SMS and WhatsApp.

It also hopes to add features that will let clients ask how much they’ve spent on gas this month or find out what’s left in their clothing budget.

“We want our customers to be able to make transactions on their terms, the way they want to bank,” said Wellington Holbrook, ATB’s chief transformation officer.

“The days of banks dictating to customers how and when they can do business are behind us.”

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“The future of banking is conversational, with customers interacting with intelligent bots to support their banking needs,” said Finn.ai co-founder and COO, Nat Cartwright. “Finn.ai is working hand-in-hand with ATB to ensure customers receive these benefits quickly and seamlessly.”

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