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Finance

Japan banks unleashing AI marketing tech

SMFG's system will guide telemarketers through conversations

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A branch of the SMBC bank in Tokyo   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Major Japanese banks are embracing artificial intelligence as a tool for reeling in new customers -- and making the most of the ones they already have.  

Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group is developing an AI system with NTT Data that can provide real-time support for its marketing staff. The lender aims to improve the efficiency of its sales promotions and boost profitability.

When telemarketers call customers, the telemarketer's computer will guide the conversation by, say, advising them to "interject" with an appropriate response.

In July through September, the bank collected voice data from conversations between operators and customers. It had the system analyze this data to look for patterns, using a technique called deep learning. The goal was to figure out what does and does not motivate customers to buy products.

SMFG plans to make the system increasingly accurate by repeating the cycle of data collection and pattern analysis. It is eyeing a formal launch in 2018.

Meanwhile, a Shinsei Bank subsidiary earlier this year established a fintech venture called SecondXight with a data analysis and consulting startup. Tapping its partner's know-how, the bank is preparing to introduce its own AI marketing technology in February.

Shinsei's system will study the profiles of the bank's roughly 3 million accounts -- from transaction histories to the holders' employment backgrounds. It will then gauge the purchase probabilities for individual products, such as insurance, mutual funds and housing loans. This will help the bank identify potential customers for specific services.

The system will also suggest the most effective type of marketing, including telephone, direct mail and other strategies. The AI will stay abreast of the outcomes of all this marketing and learn to offer better suggestions.

(Nikkei)

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