Capital One unveils chatbot for account inquiries and making payments

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A dummy laptop with online banking instructions is placed inside the banking hall within the Barclays Bank Kenya head offices in the capital Nairobi, March 1, 2016.
A dummy laptop with online banking instructions is placed inside the banking hall within the Barclays Bank Kenya head offices in the capital Nairobi, March 1, 2016. Reuters/Thomas Mukoya

Capital One Financial Corp unveiled Eno, an automated program which serves as chatbot for the bank’s customers. Now cardholders can have a more reliable access to information on their accounts and make payments through their smartphones.

Eno is the company’s gender-neutral virtual assistant that utilises artificial intelligence to respond to natural language text messages from Capital One customers about their accounts. Aside from making in person payments, online, via the automated system and over the phone, card holders can also make use of the chatbot to process credit card payments.

Ken Dodelin, Capital One's vice president of digital product development, said they intentionally chose a gender-neutral name for the program. When it is asked if it is a boy or a girl, Eno, whose name spells One backwards, will respond that it is “binary.”

In line with making the experience feel more human, Eno can also recognise some emojis. Users can simply ask Eno for their account balance by sending the bag of money emoji and approve a payment through the thumbs up emoji, Reuters notes.

Dodelin said the company’s virtual assistant still has a lot to learn. "The more people chat with Eno, the more it will learn," he said.

Latest improvements in artificial intelligence make chatbots and virtual assistants better at interacting and interpreting human language, making them more popular in banking and other industries. TransferWise, a money transfer startup, also unveiled a chatbot last month that allows customers to send money to friends and family globally via Facebook’s chat application.

French bank Societe Generale, recently announced that it was working with Personetics Technologies to also provide their customers with a chatbot. It seeks to answer queries about equity funds in its Romanian banking unit

According to a Retale poll, 86 percent of millennials agree that brands should make use of chatbots to promote deals, products, and services. Almost all of the 58 percent of respondents who had experience chatbot said they had a positive experience.

Chatbots, however, are not immune to snafus. Microsoft Corp’s chatbot reportedly made inappropriate remarks on social media, prompting the company to make one of its chatbots private.

Capital One is set to publicise its First Quarter 2017 earnings results on April 25. PR Newswire reports that the company will also host a conference call, which will be webcast live, to review its financial and operating performance for the quarter ending March 31.