Standard Bank is using IBM’s Watson cognitive computing platform to improve use of customer data, joining a number of banks that are currently assessing the technology.
IBM has been attempting to push its Watson platform into mainstream enterprise use after investing $1 billion in commercialising the technology. The Watson service uses natural language processing and machine learning to gain insights from large amounts of data, in either structured or unstructured formats.
South African lender Standard Bank has announced that it is now using the service as part of its plans to help with customer identification, allowing staff to assess their needs and react more quickly.
"The ultimate beneficiaries of the project will be our customers for whom the process-known as 'cognitive computing' will undoubtedly bring many benefits as we continue to identify innovative ways of doing business and build a bank for the future,” said Vuyo Mpako, head, innovation and channel design, Standard Bank.
It is the first African-based bank to use Watson, with a number of lenders in other regions also testing the system.
For example, Australian bank ANZ will use the Watson Engagement Advisor to help its staff quickly assess customers' financial situation.
Spain’s Caixa Bank is also partnering with IBM to develop a cognitive system based on Watson that is able to understand Spanish, in order to improve its own customer service. Others including Citibank and Royal Bank of Canada have also experimented with the technology.
Earlier this month, IBM announced the opening of a headquarters for Watson activities in New York to encourage adoption across different industries, and has established five new Watson branch offices, around the globe.
Watson is being used by organisations in 25 countries, including Australia, England, Thailand, Canada and Spain, according to IBM.