Commerzbank introduces a Banking Avatar using GenAI, enhancing customer interaction with a blend of AI and human touch.

Commerzbank has embarked on an innovative journey by developing a Banking Avatar, a virtual assistant capable of conversing with customers using natural language. This advancement is a significant stride in the bank’s IT strategy, leveraging Microsoft Azure OpenAI’s capabilities.

The avatar is designed to respond to customer inquiries and provide personalized advice on Commerzbank’s services. Initially, it will be accessible to over two million users of the Commerzbank banking app. This project positions Commerzbank among the first financial institutions to integrate GenAI software with an avatar for customer interactions.

This initiative’s core is Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI service, providing access to large-scale AI language models based on the Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) framework. Complementing this is the “Azure Text to Speech Avatar Service,” introduced at Microsoft’s Ignite conference in November 2023. This service allows the creation of photorealistic 2D avatars that communicate with users through speech.

The training of these models involves neural networks and video recordings of human interactions, offering a more lifelike and responsive customer service experience. A public preview of the Azure Text-to-Speech Avatar Service is currently available, showcasing its potential.

Commerzbank aims to optimize customer service through a “hybrid customer experience” – a blend of digital and human interaction. Early tests have shown promising results, indicating significant enhancements in customer interface, experience, and banking processes.

Jörg Oliveri del Castillo-Schulz, Chief Operating Officer of Commerzbank, highlights the project as a new chapter in the bank’s IT strategy and a prime example of GenAI and Microsoft’s avatar technology application. It’s set to improve bank processes and customer interactions markedly.

According to McKinsey’s “The State of AI in 2023: Generative AI’s Breakout Year” report, the financial sector stands to benefit greatly from GenAI, potentially boosting revenue by up to 5%. However, challenges such as tool and model complexity, a shortage of AI experts, and the implementation and scaling of GenAI applications remain significant hurdles.