Chatbots & AI

A few questions for Team :mondo:…

  1. Do you believe that conversational apps are poised to replace native mobile apps as reported by the media?

  2. Are you guys working on any A.I. driven conversational services? I imagine an ideal use case would be providing low cost, scalable customer support.

And on that subject…

  1. What customer service channels will be available as :mondo: scales to hundreds of thousands or millions of users?

Hey @saveen,

Good questions! I’ll see what I can do to answer them :slight_smile:

  1. The honest answer is we don’t know. Personally, I think there’s probably a middle ground between the crazed excitement in the media and apps as we have today. Some things work really well as a conversation; other things are super low and crappy.

  2. Not at the moment—building a bank, getting a banking license and running a full prepaid card ‘side-project’ is keeping us quite busy :slight_smile: Most the AI driven support services I’ve seen have not had much of the I, but there’s definitely something in AI supported support that augments humans. That’s part of the plan for the future and I know @jonas has a talk coming up soon about that :slight_smile:

  3. Or billions :wink: Chat is here to stay—we think we can ensure that you still receive fast replies to queries, even when we have loads of customers, by approaching it in the same way we do everything. We can solve problems that cause customer service queries with engineering and product focus and ensure that customer support is only needed for the really meaty, difficult problems. Beyond that, it remains to be seen what other channels we have—in general, we want to be able to meet customers wherever is easiest for them, whether that’s on Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter etc. so that will play in to it.

I’d love to hear what you and others think?


Great answers Tristan!

Completely agree about the middle ground between the hype and apps today.

:joy: The same applies to many a call centre! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: I’m not sure how much bankasaurs are spending on human assisted support but it’s v.likely these jobs will be replaced over time. However, this is not going to happen overnight and I believe that AI supported support (as you rightly mentioned) is the next logical step…

For example, apps like Mezi relied completely on human assistants but now work is split about 80-20 and their goal is to flip that ratio in favour of artificial intelligence. I believe that’s the way things are going to go and by starting on this sooner than competing banks :mondo: has the opportunity to be ahead of the curve with a potentially smarter AI assistant.

Yes! :+1: to meeting customers through all major communication channels of the day. I suppose account specific queries that require customer verification and data protection compliance could not operate via these though.

I have seen a lot of ‘chatbot’ ideas around and to be honest, I don’t think any of them so far benefit the consumer at all.

That being said, smart interfaces where AI is used to identify what the user might need and helps to lead them to the right solution will be useful I think.

Ultimately, users consistently prefer self-servicing, where they are given helpful tools to sort themselves out - rather than talking to someone, whether human or robot.

My short opinion.
Proactive AI: :thumbsup:
Digital assistants: :thumbsup:
Chatbots: :thumbsdown:

My problem with chatbots is that they’re mostly implemented as menu systems with little to no discoverability as to what the options are. It’s like trying to use an automated phone system in text form. Just give me a full interface or some kind of searchable self-serve support at that point!

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Totally agree there’s a lot of garbage out there right now but decent examples are starting to emerge.

Think of AI supported support this way - we’re already using Intercom to post questions, some of these answers can be automated. If these conversations can happen on Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp etc. even better.

We’re just at the beginning of an inevitable march towards conversational agent and AI ubiquity. The basic chatbots of today (which include Siri, Cortana, Alexa etc.) will evolve into much greater things.

Btw, Richard you raise a good point about having a menu of commands and FB have responded.

Having seen the new Messages apps on iOS 10, do you think it will be possible to receive support through there as well? Simply texting Mondo support would be a great help, and one could receive updates very easily by text as well.


UK SMSing is incredibly expensive - typically up to about 3p per message. Not sure that’d work out well.

I guess @domtyler is more thinking the new iMessage extensions. Apple didn’t mention chatbots or anything so it will be interesting to see where developers take the iMessage extensions platform.

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Would you not say that the majority of users have free SMS in the UK?

I love the in app chat at the moment and love to think that it will stay - but with millions of users I think scaling this up will be difficult.

Actually I’m talking from Mondo’s perspective. Wholesale UK SMS pricing is incredibly high.

That makes sense - and yes it is!

I was actually thinking more about iMessage, but I get what you mean about SMS.

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BBC tech story today relevant to our previous discussion:

It seems that the big banks are taking this AI supported support approach:

The bank will make it clear to customers that they are talking to a bot, and they will have the option to move the conversation to a human agent at any point.


Just thought I’d pick up on a couple of points from this thread…

Once Monzo has OAuth authentication (for verification via Intercom) or just builds the verification into that app, that should solve the problem (regulators might disagree for a while of course).

Agreed, the only useful implementation of a chatbot I’ve seen so far is Slack’s.

Right & ultimately, we know that most of the time call center agents are just reading from scripts (at regular banks anyway!).

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AI supported support is the only way to do it IMO. AI can be excellent at first line support but you still need to be able to get through to a human.

I see Monzo benefiting from Google Assistant-style bot support for queries that can have community sourced answers such as “Can Monzo be used in [country]?” or “What are the best ATMs to use in [country]?” as well as officially written answers for questions like “How do I change my PIN?”. Things that may not quite fit in the app’s UI but that might be too repetitive for an effective use of human support.

AI chatbots are vile as just doing humans out of a job

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Can we rephrase it to “AI augmented support” please? AI supported support makes me double-take every time I read it :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

The main reasons I prefer online chat over a phone call:

  • It’s more private in when surrounded by other people. I don’t want them hearing about my financial ins and outs.
  • It also provides an immutable record of exactly who said what and when. All too often I’ve spoken to call centre agent for agreeing them to do something for me. If it doesn’t get done and I don’t get told their name or forget to ask for it then I’ve got no comeback to complain that it didn’t get done.

I think all these points from everyone could make AI augmented support a great idea for the purpose satisfying the easier customer queries, which statistically will be most of them (I can’t remember where I saw that statistic but it’s fairly high) and also with regards to :monzo: reducing the overhead costs.

For the more difficult to understand queries, maybe it should automatically redirect the user to a human, or should be given the option to do that themselves? For me, seeing a message saying something like “Please wait while I fetch someone more suited to dealing with your query” is better than seeing “Sorry, I didn’t understand your question. Please could you rephrase that?”

I just found these: Facebook app | Help Center and Twitter app | Help Center - not sure if they’re already in use with :monzo:'s intercom? I’m not sure if there’s official ones for Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp but with these at least more public chat can be managed more easily from a central hub.


Hey, John Connor of the Resistance! :wink:


Definitely, there may also be tasks where information can be collected up front for a human to review and respond.

I did a concept for something else a while back that was not chat based but just proactive support. The system used data from recent app activity to suggest self-serve solutions to common problems as well as fast tracked you through phone support to verify you, call you using Twilio (I don’t believe the app side voice SDK was available at the time) and give the customer service agent all of the information they needed to help you.

To the customer, it’s a similar kind of magic to what I believe either American Express or First Direct have where if you experience a decline and call them, they are able to see it and begin helping immediately. I know it’s definately American Express who are additionally able to wish you a happy birthday if you happen to call them on that day. As the Travel Reports feature is aware of a customer’s location in the world, that could additionally be shown to an agent with quick access to relevant information.

One of the best pieces of truly proactive automated support I’ve personally experienced is with Barclays after getting my card locked for a suspected fraudulent purchase in USD at 2am, they texted the number on file apologising with details of the transaction, asking me to reply with Y or N if I did or did not recognise it. I would love to see something like this with Monzo notifications and the feed (“$9,999 declined at NotLegitStore because of suspected fraud. Was this you?” :wink: ).