AI startup gets $3m to put banking chatbots into WhatsApp

Published: November 14, 2016
Tech in Asia
Publishing Partner
The startup allows you to pay bills or check your bank balance using WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. PHOTO: AFP

The startup allows you to pay bills or check your bank balance using WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. PHOTO: AFP

The internet and smartphone eras have exposed the fact that most companies are terrible at making websites and apps. Of those, your bank is likely up there with the worst. One startup’s solution is an AI-powered banking chatbot that you can talk to in WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, allowing you to deal with your bank for common tasks like paying bills or checking your balance.

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That Singapore-based startup, Active AI, has created a way for banks to offer you a chatbot. The team behind it today announced it has secured US$3 million in funding from IDG Ventures India and Kalaari Capital to persuade more banks around the world to pick up on its chatbots.


If your bank makes use of Active AI’s bot, you’ll be able to jump into your favorite messaging app to do things like view your recent transactions, transfer money to buddies, and even get a temporary raise in your credit card limit. The bots won’t try to answer your question about the meaning of life like Siri or Alexa, but they’ll rack their lil’ AI brains on any banking-related topic you pitch.

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“Conversation is the new UX,” says Ravi Shankar, the startup’s CEO and co-founder. “With banks opening up APIs, a new era of digital business is emerging. We are moving from ‘mobile first’ to ‘AI first’ and Active AI is the platform facilitating banks to achieve that.”

The founding team at Active AI have backgrounds in banking and fintech, having founded companies in mobile banking and payments.

We’ve contacted the startup for further details on its progress thus far.

This article originally appeared on Tech in Asia.

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