MasterCard has announced that they will launch a bot on Facebook Messenger in 2017.
Bots were first introduced as tools to the general public on platforms like AOL's Instant Messenger in the early part of the 21st century with "chatbots." Of course, bots have seen significant change with rapid tech advancement. With current sophistication, they do everything from managing personal schedules to tracking financial investments.
MasterCard has partnered with Kasisto, an artificial intelligence producer, for its bot. The platform is reportedly still in the testing stage and MasterCard has not even released the name of the bot. According to a press release, the bot will let users review their accounts and purchase histories, manage spending levels and assist with financial literacy. Users will be able to say something like "groceries" and get an exact amount on how much they have spent overall or at a specific store as the bot will cull through financial statements. The goal is to provide a better idea of what you are doing with money without needing hard documentation.
Kasisto, the company that built the bot, already has one personal finance chatbot, MyKai. While it basically functions much like the new MasterCard bot, MyKai also reads SMS text messages to get information about spending and bank accounts. Another noted financial aide bot is Trim. Released in 2015, Trim also uses a messaging platform. It allows the cancellation of monthly subscriptions, checks account balances and records spending levels. Trim can even automatically challenge fees for late payments and overdrafts.
The CEO of the company that engineered Trim, Thomas Smyth, said the app was designed to give users financial freedom, letting them make and implement actions without creating more work. Smyth notes as opposed to simply getting typical alerts about late fees or deposits, Trim will warn you when you are at risk of overdraft and accompanying fees, and, where applicable, will initiate adding funds to an account to avoid charges.
Smyth says the features are greatly appreciated by its users. "People say to me, why can't banks do this. Why wouldn't Wells Fargo do this? Well, they love when you have overdraft fees on a credit card, they make millions of dollars. This is an opportunity for chat bot agents to play more of a consumer advocacy role than banks ever could."
MasterCard and Kasisto wants to ensure future users of their collaboration that data privacy and security was taken seriously throughout the design of the new app. They took into account that the risk of linking personal financial information with a public platform like Facebook might be of great concern. But Zor Gorelov, Kasisto's CEO, insists data will be "encrypted" and neither his company, MasterCard, Kasisto or Facebook will record and keep user financial data. Information will only be accessible by authorized parties.