​CUA partnering with startups to bring AI to members

CUA Health is piloting a chatbot with the help from fintech firm Flamingo, with CUA's innovation boss touting the need to partner to bring new digital services to its customers.

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Member-owned financial services provider CUA is currently piloting a chatbot for its health insurance business that Head of Digital Innovation Melissa Witheriff said helps customers move through the process of purchasing insurance.

Speaking at D61+ LIVE in Brisbane on Tuesday, Witheriff said that CUA is pushing itself into emerging technologies such as AI, and is doing so with the help of partners, in particular fintechs.

"Because we're a small organisation, or relatively small, we need to innovate through partnerships, whether that's with universities, corporates, or the fintech ecosystem," she explained. "In this situation, we're partnering with fintechs to be able to bring AI into the experience that we offer for our members."

Specifically, CUA is working with AI-focused Flamingo and the Sydney-based firm's virtual sales assistant Sam.

The three month pilot follows Sam learning CUA's commonly asked questions and answers.

"It's been fabulous for a non-technical person like myself to be able to see how that works and bringing it into our health business and helping people look at how they get a quote and right through to signing up for health insurance -- something that we as families ... and individuals do every day," Witheriff continued.

"Offering a chatbot that enables people to go through that experience seamlessly."

Only a few months into the Sam trial, Witheriff said it is already making a difference to the business.

"We're just a few weeks into the pilot, but it's extraordinary to see the power of AI, the data and the insight that we've never had before," she explained.

"It's just extraordinary to put a small step forward and all the change management that's required behind that to bring our leadership and our members and customers through that journey too."

For the 12 months to June 30, 2018, CUA Group reported AU$54.8 million in after-tax profit, down 1.9 per cent on the prior year.

Disclosure: Asha McLean travelled to D61+ LIVE as a guest of Data61

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