One Million People Are Now Using Erica - BofA's AI-Powered Chatbot

brought to you by WBR Insights

Meet Erica - Bank of America's new virtual financial assistant. Billed as the first widely-available virtual assistant in financial services, in essence, she is a chatbot, now available for free within the BofA mobile app to the bank's 25 million mobile customers.

Initially piloted among BofA employees in late 2017, Erica was first made available to customers in Rhode Island this year in mid-March. A month later, she was rolled out to eight more states, and in June was finally opened to all BofA mobile customers.

To say that Erica is off to a flying start is an understatement - within two months of completing the phased rollout, Bank of America announced that the chatbot had amassed more than 1 million users. "It goes to show how quickly we can grow, and we expect the numbers to continue to grow," said Bank of America's Head of Digital Banking Michelle Moore.

What Can Erica Do?

Erica is AI-driven and combines predictive analytics and natural language to help BofA mobile app users access balance information, transfer money between accounts, send money with Zelle, and schedule meetings at financial centers. Customers can interact with Erica in any way they choose, including voice commands, texting, or tapping options on their phone's screen.

"Everything we do is based on what we hear from our clients: how they want to interact with us and how we can make their financial lives better," said Moore.

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The more users interact with Erica, the more the bot learns, and the better she becomes at providing help. "Erica's knowledge of banking and financial services increases with every client interaction," said Head of Consumer Technology and Wealth Management Technology at Bank of America, Aditya Bhasin. "In time, Erica will have the insights to not only help pay a friend or list your transactions at a specific merchant, but also help you make better financial decisions by analyzing your habits and providing guidance."

So far, users have primarily used the chatbot to search for transactions, view balance information and bills, get their credit scores, and even do simple things like access their account numbers.

Of these, searching transactions - especially those with popular merchants such as Amazon, Target, Walmart Costco, and Uber - is the top thing that customers have so far used Erica for, according to Moore. "You can go into Erica and say, 'Show me all my Amazon transactions.' It will tell you all your credit and debit card transactions, and if you wrote a check, that would show there, too. [...] In the past I'd go through all my statements and add [the transactions] up on a calculator," she said. "I don't have to do that anymore because I can ask Erica. So, transaction searching has been a huge hit."

Making Mobile Customers' Lives Easier

Erica is just one of many recent additions to BofA's growing list of technology-enhanced digital offerings, including Digital Mortgage Experience, a mobile car shopping tool, and Better Money Habits - a content resource that provides the bank's customers with tips on saving and budgeting - which Erica interacts with seamlessly.

"If you ask Erica about credit scores, she will give you back an answer about Better Money Habits and provide a video," Moore said. "If you type in 'learn about credit scores,' you'll receive Better Money Habits videos. If you type in 'how can I stick to a budget?' you will receive content and information back from Better Money Habits."

Erica also integrates with Bank of America's spending and budgeting tools and connects with customer service agents' consoles in call centers. This means that when customers are using Erica they can make contact with a real human agent with just a simple tap. Since users are already authenticated while using the BofA app, they do not have to re-identify themselves to the agent. What's more, the agents themselves can see what the customer has been doing and asking about in Erica, so customers don't even have to re-explain what they're having trouble with.

Final Thoughts

Reaching one million Erica users in such a short timeframe is an incredible achievement. The challenge, however, will be to keep this momentum going and encourage existing users to continue using the function. But Bank of America already has plans to increase Erica's capabilities, and in the coming months she will be able to tackle even more complex tasks, such as sending proactive notifications to users about upcoming bills and payments, identifying ways for users to save more, and managing debit and credit cards to help notify customers of card changes.

"Our clients are increasingly asking for mobile services that make their lives easier, and Erica is becoming a growing choice for its convenience and personal solutions," said Moore. "As we continue to advance our work on AI-driven developments, it is important that we listen to our users today and further enhance Erica to align to client feedback to better meet and anticipate needs."

You can hear Arpit Gupta, SVP of Product Innovation at Bank of America, speak at Future Digital Finance 2019 this coming February at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, Amelia Island, FL.

Download the Agenda for more information and insights.