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Here's How Capital One is Staying Neutral with Its New AI Assistant
brought to you by WBR Insights
Beginning life as Oakstone Financial, the credit card division of Virginia-based Signet Financial Corp - now incorporated into Wells Fargo - Capital One has grown from a monoline bank providing only credit card products, to a fully-fledged financial provider, dealing in loans, phone service, insurance, and more.
Today, Capital One has revenues of $27,519 million, and sits at #100 on the Fortune 500 list, making it one of the top 10 banks in the world.
However, the bank hasn't maintained this momentum by shying away from new technologies. On the contrary, vice president of data engineering at Capital One, Linda Apsley, has said she considers the company to be just as much a tech company, as a financial one.
"We are a very data-driven company, we want to bring the bank to the customer," said Apsley. "It's really about moving beyond just being able to do a deposit on your phone, to knowing everything about the customer. The data ecosystem is evolving, different methods are evolving, such as two-factor authentication in areas like fraud."
The first major innovation Capital One made in the digital space, was a novel partnership with online retailer Amazon.
Capital One were the first financial institution to offer fully voice activated control to their customers via Amazon's virtual assistant - Alexia. By installing the bespoke Capital One 'Skill' for their device, customers can access their account information simply by asking Alexia questions.
The most revolutionary feature within Capital One's Alexia functionality, is its ability to recognize normal language - rather than robotic pre-set commands. Customers can ask, "how much money did I spend last weekend," for example, and the device will understand what they mean and provide an appropriate response. Customers can even ask questions like, how much they spent at a certain retailer last month, and the app will be able to answer.
(Image source: capitalone.com)
"The new feature Capital One is bringing to their Alexa skill - being able to easily track your spending patterns with a simple voice command -- is a first for the Alexa voice service," said Director of Amazon Alexa, Rob Pulciani at the time.
"This new feature demonstrates the potential of the Alexa service to help manage all aspects of your daily life, including your budget. We're thrilled to continue our work with Capital One, and we can't wait to bring more features to Alexa and Capital One customers."
By offering an elegant and simple to use method of accessing account data, Capital one gives its customer the ability to easily track their spending and stay on top of their finances - particularly useful as the holiday season approaches.
However, not just interested in enabling customers to talk to them in an innovative way, Capital One wanted to revolutionize the way it talked back as well.
Chatbots have become more and more prevalent as AI technology has increased in sophistication. However, what do Alexia, Cortana, Siri etc. all have in common?
Answer: They are all female.
The proliferation of female names and avatars attached to chatbots has drawn criticism from social commentators over the last year. Females being predominantly positioned as digital servants has raised questions relating to attitudes about gender and sexism, and this has led Capital One to try something a little different.
Capital One has therefore intentionally created the world's first gender neutral chatbot - Eno. A text based application, Eno can respond to any queries customers have about their Capital One accounts. However, if you ask Eno for its gender, it will simply respond - "Binary."
Eno's favorite color is green - it is a banker after all - communicates using natural texting language, and can also recognize some emojis and provide an appropriate response. For example, if a user sends the bag of money emoji, Eno will show them their bank balance, or they can use a thumbs-up emoji to confirm a payment.
Capital One's vice president of digital product development, Ken Dodelin writes:
"Text messaging. It's that thing everyone is doing all the time; so much so that people occasionally run into each other on the street or get tennis thumb from sending too many back-to-back emojis [...]"
"Eno uses a natural language processor to understand the different ways that customers communicate over text. For example, Eno shares balance info in response to both "What's my Quicksilver card balance?" and the more abbreviated "Quicksilver bal.""
A More Inclusive Financial Future
It's clear Capital One isn't just thinking about how technology is used to augment the customer experience, but also how they can remain sensitive to societal progression at the same time. The final word goes to Capital One's vice president of digital product development, Ken Dodelin.
"We put a lot of thought into both the name and potential visual treatments for Eno. The name Eno, which is "one" spelled backwards, ties to the brand. We also liked that if you google the words "eno definition", the response is "cool, awesome". We didn't want to convey a race, gender, age, etc., through the name or visual representation of the character. That way, we avoid any unconscious biases folks may have, and Eno can remain whatever customers conjure up in their heads."
You can hear Capital One's Director of Digital Design, Ryan Page speak at Future Digital Finance 2018, at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort in March.
Download the agenda today for more information.