Barclays Africa to trial first bank chatbot in Africa

Artificial intelligence enabled bots to answer simple customer questions quickly

Barclays Africa Group Ltd’s (Barclays Africa) subsidiary Absa Bank Ltd (Absa) announced today that it would pilot a chatbot within the coming few weeks, making it the first bank to do so in Africa. Chatbots use artificial intelligence to simulate intelligent conversation through written or spoken text.

Yasaman Hadjibashi, Chief Data Officer at Barclays Africa, explains: “At Absa, we are constantly seeking new ways to be more relevant to our customers. By aligning our user-centric and big data expertise we are able to connect with our customers through channels that they are actively using.”

The fact that messaging apps continue to eclipse social media (as the conversational channel of choice in monthly active users) means that consumers are quickly adopting ‘smart’ two-way messaging apps as opposed to traditional, and more limited options such as SMS or email.
According to Jan Moganwa, Chief Executive of Personal & Business Customer Solutions at Barclays Africa, artificial intelligence enabled chatbots can answer simple customer questions quickly, freeing up staff to focus on more complex customer issues that require deeper human insight.

“Connecting with our customers is core to our business. Introducing chatbots at Absa provides greater ability to have relevant conversations with our customers, and provide immediate response,” says Moganwa.

The trial of the chatbots not only marks a transformation in the way the bank will engage with customers, but further underscores its efforts to become the most intelligent bank.
“Using artificial intelligence, the bank can learn what individual customers regularly ask for, in real-time, and make these options easier to find for the customer,” adds Anna Nascimento, Head of Commercial Engagement, Personal Bank at Barclays Africa.