Wells Fargo is launching a virtual assistant, cleverly named Fargo

Wells Fargo will use Google technology to launch a new set of virtual assistants that will roll out to customers in the coming months. The service, called Fargo, will be similar to Erika, Bank of America’s virtual assistant. It will use Dialogflow, Google Cloud’s conversational AI platform to deliver a more personalized, convenient and simple banking experience, primarily for mobile users.

“As mobile banking has become the preferred way for Wells Fargo customers to bank, we will continue to innovate together with strategic partners like Google Cloud to create customer experiences that inspire and support them in their financial journeys,” said Michelle Moore, head of digital for consumer and wealth and investment management at Wells Fargo. “This partnership will expand our customers’ digital financial assistance network by enabling meaningful money conversations conveniently from their mobile device.”

Some features are quite disappointing, such as the ability to activate and deactivate debit cards – something Simple offered through a mobile phone several years ago, and other banks and card providers have long since upgraded. available to their users.

A study conducted by Ipson for Wells Fargo this summer found widespread acceptance of virtual assistants. He reported that nearly two-thirds (65%) of millennials and Gen Z respondents would rather use a virtual assistant for customer service needs than wait for a customer service representative on the phone.

“Most (84%) who have used virtual assistants reported a favorable experience and 70% cited ‘saving time’ as a major benefit,” similar to two years ago. The survey also asked why users might prefer a real person when calling.

“The perceived strengths of human representatives are: they understand the customer’s emotions (62%), deal with complex questions (58%), answer questions with precision (46%), provide peace of mind (45% %).” Thirty-eight percent noted that talking to a person puts the customer in control of their service experience, a point likely to resonate with people who have found themselves yelling in frustration at an automated virtual assistant who can’t even understand a simple request.

The bank appears to be starting small with plans to scale up to more sophisticated services. Initially, Fargo will allow users to check credit limits and search for specific transactions by date, amount, or type. Fargo will access a user’s banking data, including a customer’s credit card, checking, savings, and loan (home, car, and personal loan) accounts. Going forward, Fargo will expand into other products and services, a spokesperson said. Fargo will also rely on insights from its conversations with a customer, in addition to a customer’s spending habits and behaviors, she added.

“Next year, Fargo will offer Spanish-language features. It will also take a more proactive role in guiding customers towards financial well-being by leveraging predictive analytics to enable meaningful conversations that learn and adapt to each individual customer,” the bank’s announcement read.

Fargo will also simplify budgeting by calculating how much someone can safely spend, again something that mobile phone-based banking apps Simple and Moven offered years ago. Fargo will also be able to make suggestions to customers on how much they could save by consolidating debt or improve their finances by moving extra cash into investments. Financial companies have a mixed record when offering financial advice, sometimes directing clients to a company’s own products that are more expensive and/or less efficient than products offered elsewhere.

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