capital one
capital one

Capital One took a serious step forward onthe field of digital technology and artificial intelligence — one of the largest and among the first banking institutions in the U.S. to take care for monez storing, transfers and management.

Several major financial services firms have publicly announced ambitious plans for AI, including consumer-facing chatbots. Months later, they still haven’t shipped. Companies that aren’t core technology organizations like Google or Facebook often struggle with getting tech products out the door. Capital One is one of the few exceptions to the rule.

Capital One’s transition to digital kicked off when the company formed an in-house software engineering unit and migrated a significant part of operations to the cloud, foreseeing early on that agility would become a key competitive edge for players in the financial sector. More recently, the Fortune 500 firm infused both backend infrastructure and customer-facing channels with smart doses of machine learning and natural language processing, punctuated in March by an industry-first rollout of a gender-neutral and NLP-capable chatbot named Eno (“One” spelled backwards).

In 2016, the Virginia-based lender became the first financial services company to launch customer account access on Amazon’s Alexa platform, allowing users to check their balances, pay their bills, and engage in a wide range of voice-based interactions. The company also announced it plans to be the first financial services company to launch a similar service on Cortana, Microsoft’s personal assistant software.

Capital One’s latest AI-driven initiative is the chatbot Eno, which markedly shifts the medium from voice to text. Ken Dodelin, VP of digital product management, explained, “Texting is the most widely used feature on the smartphone. Ninety-seven percent of smartphone owners text. So we thought that would be a good place for us to spend some time. And we launched the first natural language SMS chatbot from a U.S. bank.

“Through Eno, folks can chat with us in natural language about their credit card accounts and their checking accounts, and we’re able to have that natural language conversation with our customers.”

Safe bot creation?

Many chatbots are friendly, fascinating, and harmless, but a few have been used by phishing scam operators to hijack sensitive information. As a highly regulated business, Capital One understands the risks of sharing data with AI and has established specific security protocols to protect customers when they use AI-driven services. Based on the platform, Capital One adopts different approaches to safeguard personal information.

To enable a skill on Alexa, for example, Dodelin says users are first rerouted to the Capital One website to login using their secure username and password. Customers also have the option to set up a personal key for Alexa via a four-digit PIN. This prevents unauthorized individuals from instructing Alexa to divulge sensitive information about other users. Meanwhile, the company’s AI developers programmed a clear limit to Eno’s use cases, which allowed for bill payments but mostly restricted consumer interactions to account information retrievals.

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