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Diving into AI at VanFunding 2018

This past Friday we had the pleasure of participating in the 4th annual VanFunding event at Parq Vancouver. VanFunding centres discussions around emerging technologies like blockchain, fintech, AI and alternative investing. We were proud to be a Community Partner and would like to give thanks to Craig Asano of the National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association of Canada for organizing another fantastic conference.

Our VP Product Jesse Penner was invited to speak on a panel discussion entitled “Pioneering Markets: Game Changing Tech Innovations Impacting Finance and Society” alongside moderator Jessica Katrichak of BTV News and panelists Monique Morden of Judi.AI, Mike Moll of Reitium, and Chris Sanford of Responsive.

It was a great discussion around new technologies; we’ve highlighted our favourite learnings below.


Aligning incentives

The question posed “How can AI impact the everyday lives of normal people?” was a key discussion point. AI is such a buzzword that it’s easy to assume that it’s something every digital strategy needs to embrace, without focusing on the true value for the end user.

Netflix and Spotify’s algorithms use machine learning to great effect to improve the experience of consuming movies and music. Their growth has been prolific because the services they offer go beyond a platform for consumption. Their true value is added through machine learning algorithms; based on your listening or viewing patterns, likes and dislikes, they recommend new music, TV and films and their recommendations get smarter and smarter over time.

They didn’t just digitize music and movies; they aligned their incentives with that of the end user. They’re not trying to get people to listen to just more music; they hook people with their exemplary user experience and hyper-personalized services that enables users to consume of the media that they’ll enjoy the most to encourage continuation with their subscription.

So how can we apply this to banking? Financial data, with everyone in Canada utilizing banking services in some way, presents a hugely detailed data set for learning, and the opportunities arguably present a far greater impact on people’s lives.

Analysis and the AI insights driven by financial data can help answer questions like “Should I go back to school?” or “Would I be better off if I moved to Calgary?” These are huge life decisions where the information that supports different choices are from disparate or unreliable/anecdotal sources.

Ultimately it’ll be the technology whose incentives aligns with the end user that will win out.  By aligning with end users desire for success – helping banking customers get the most out of their financial service providers, as opposed to more products – banks and credit unions will retain the service-driven edge that many consumers expect and actually far exceed these expectations as their insights become smarter and more valuable.


Augment, not replace

“Is AI out to replace providers?” This is often a concern – that we’ll all end up being replaced by algorithms!

As Jesse and Monique noted in the discussion, AI isn’t seeking to replace financial advisors whose guidance customers value but rather augment and improve the overall value that the financial service provider is able to present.

Financial institutions are well aware that different customer segments prefer different types of access and service – self-serve, in branch, on mobile, at home, one-to-one.

AI is improving the customer experience by providing an overall more consistent, hyper-personalized omnichannel experience for every customer. The benefits of AI don’t just apply to those customers on their mobile phones, but can provide greater insight to advisors in branch for a more effective banking relationship.