NAB pilots new Talk to NAB platform through Google Assistant

The bank has launched its Talk to NAB platform that allows customers to ask banking questions via the Google Assistant.

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NAB executive general manager NAB Labs Jonathan Davey

Image: Supplied

The National Australia Bank (NAB) has announced the launch of its voice-activated Talk to NAB offering, allowing customers to ask basic banking questions such as how to replace a lost card or reset their password.

Talk to NAB runs via Google Home or a smartphone with the Google Assistant installed.

Executive general manager NAB Labs Jonathan Davey said the new offering is the result of listening to customer feedback, and that the Google Assistant-based platform provides customers with more choice.

"Our customers are connecting with us every minute of the day and the vast majority of these interactions are through digital platforms," Davey said.

"It's our job to make banking simple and easy for our customers; we know they want more self-service capability and they want to be able to solve basic questions in a channel that suits them and when it's convenient for them."

Customers can use the Talk to NAB function to seek guidance on simple banking questions around transaction and savings accounts, credit cards, personal loans, travel cards, and internet banking.

NAB said it is continuing to experiment with virtual assistants in order to provide real-time service to customers in their channel of choice, with Davey touting Friday's launch as a first step for the bank in the voice-based smart assistance space.

"We will continue to develop our capability with the Google Assistant over time so it can answer more questions and perform more tasks," he added.

In order to use the Talk to NAB function, customers will require a Google Home device or the Google Assistant on a compatible smartphone, as well as a data connection.

To launch the conversation, users will need to say, "Ok Google, talk to NAB", and once the device responds, users can begin asking general questions.

NAB is the first Australian bank to launch an app for the Google Assistant.

NAB launched its artificial intelligence digital virtual banker last month, specifically for small to medium-sized business customers to have their questions answered 24/7.

"Whilst at the moment you can talk to it, chat with it online, we'd love for you to be able to use your voice to activate it, to ask it questions, as our business customers are driving around," NAB executive general manager of business transformation Anne Bennett said at the time.

The AI behind the virtual assistant is derived from real-life customer enquiries, and there are more than 13,000 variants of the 200 questions that it can answer. In the event of a customer's question not able to be answered, the customer will be directed to a human banker.

For the first half of the 2017 financial year, NAB reported AU$2.55 billion in after-tax profit -- a 246.1 percent turnaround from the AU$1.74 billion loss reported last year.

For the six months to March 31, 2017, cash earnings were AU$3.39 billion, an increase of 2.3 percent, on revenue from ordinary activities of AU$8.64 billion, down 4.7 percent year over year.