Thinking Capital, a Montreal-based online lender for small businesses, has entered the world of artificial intelligence with a new chatbot.
The AI chatbot, named “Lucy,” interacts with customers 24/7 via Facebook Messenger. She can answer questions about Thinking Capital and identify whether users qualify for business financing up to $300,000. For questions that Lucy can’t answer, users will be linked to Thinking Capital’s customer support team. As more people use the chatbot, it will learn how to answer more questions over time.
“We’re all about innovation, and for us, it was a natural fit in terms of providing our customers with best-in-class service,” said Anthony Lipschitz, chief strategy officer at Thinking Capital. “It’s all about giving people the opportunity to interact quickly and get the information they require on platforms they’re using already.”
“It’s important for any business, including financial services companies, to be where their customers are and talk to them in a way they want to communicate,” said Jake Tyler, co-founder and CEO of Finn.ai, the Vancouver-based company that developed Thinking Capital’s chatbot.
“The reality is people don’t use their phones for calling anymore – they use them for texting. But, when it comes to customer support, the only way they can interact is by phoning. That’s not the way millennials talk to each other. I think we will see customer support move in a very material way towards chat.”
Facebook launched its new bot platform for Messenger at its F8 developer conference in April, and there are currently 30,000 bots in the platform. According to Facebook, bots can provide anything from automated subscription content like weather and traffic updates, to customized communications such as receipts and shipping notifications.
Thinking Capital said its AI chatbot was the first among fintechs in North America. The firm is also in the process of integrating the chatbot into its web and SMS platforms.
One big advantage to businesses using chatbots is cost reduction in the area of customer support, said Tyler. “We’re able to assist human agents and take some of the volume off them for frequent customer queries.”
But, Tyler doesn’t think chatbots are going to replace humans any time soon. “The objective is to deliver a set of services to customers and reduce costs at the same time,” he said.