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In just 18 months since its launch, Bank of America’s (BofA) virtual assistant “Erica” has racked up 10 million users and handled 100 million requests from clients, Yahoo reports.
The assistant’s strong growth has largely been driven by the addition of more advanced capabilities over time. Upon its debut, Erica could only carry out simple interactions such as balance check inquiries, but it enjoyed strong growth after new functionalities such as insights and assistance with budgeting were introduced.
The bank has placed a premium on technological innovation, as demonstrated by its status as the top patent holder among financial institutions. BofA was granted the most patents (318) of any financial institution in 2018 and is among the top 10 holders of US banking-related patents and applications, according to a ranking of the top 300 organizations granted US patents from the Intellectual Property Owners Association cited by Finextra.
And 24 of those patents were related to technology for Erica. That may explain why 2019 has been a hot year for new Erica capabilities, such as the ability to alert users about upcoming bills and show potential duplicate charges.
Strong Erica adoption is excellent news for BofA, as it uses the assistant to gain insight on what its customer base wants. Erica helps BofA personalize its digital services to each customer by gathering data on the types of requests that each customer makes of it, David Tyrie, BofA’s head of advanced solutions and digital banking, told Yahoo.
In this way, it can learn both the primary tasks that each individual client is using their BofA app for — enabling the app to be configured with a tailored home page — and the types of functions customers want to see from Erica but that aren’t currently supported. For example, the ability to show recurring charges and update the card information used to carry out those charges is a function being rolled out to Erica in early 2020 because customers who had lost their credit or debit cards wanted it. The more users that BofA can get to use Erica, the more accurate a roadmap for new features and personalization the bank can enjoy going forward.
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