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How ChatGPT can help Africa’s financial services industry

By , ITWeb
Africa , 28 Mar 2023
Charl Amin, director: financial services, Africa, Microsoft.
Charl Amin, director: financial services, Africa, Microsoft.

There are a number of trends shaping Africa’s financial services industry that are driven by increasing digitisation, from super apps to personalisation, says Charl Amin, director: financial services, Africa, Microsoft. 

However, generative AI is currently taking most of the headlines, she adds. And with good reason.

“Customer behaviour has changed; they want to engage across different channels. However, it’s challenging for financial services institutions to provide a consistent brand across multiple channels, especially when some services are being offered by other agencies or brokers acting on behalf of the brand.”

Thanks to digital technologies, such as cloud computing and AI, personalisation for customers is increasingly taking place within financial services institutions (FSIs)

Amin says that the capability to offer personalisation is a significant driver behind the rise in ‘super apps’, which are ecommerce platforms that offer a wide range of services, but importantly include integrated payment tools. 

Super apps are increasingly being offered by financial services institutions and mobile operators. “They offer the ability to provide lifestyle experiences, then reward customers for being in these apps and taking up the services offered,” says Amin.

She adds that many FSIs across Africa are either already offering super apps or in the process of offering them. 

“Everyone we've been engaging with has been talking about it. Some of the biggest banks and insurers on the continent are thinking through how they further invest in these apps.”

Generative AI

Another digital trend that has, in recent weeks, shown to be disruptive is the arrival of generative AI in the form of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, and more recently Google’s Bard.

Amin says FSIs are adopting generative AI capability to better empower employees, such as relationship managers or advisors, to create better experiences with customers, as well as the direct use of such AI in digital customer experiences. 

She says combining that with personalisation will provide powerful opportunities.

“We often talk about the single view of the customer, the 360 view. But there's also a 720 view, which is further than that: who is this customer? What are their likes and dislikes? 

"What products do they use that they're talking about on social media? What information do bankers and brokers have on the customer? All of that is important when engaging with the customer to give them the most personalised experience.

“There are many layers below that in terms of how AI can engage and empower the adviser. It’s important to know who they're engaging with to position the right products at the right time, but you also want to be able to empower the advisor in real-time to respond to questions and queries the customer may have.”

Generative AI can also be harnessed to deal with some of the mundane tasks that call centre agents often have to deal with, such as responding to standard email queries, such as changing account details, providing a statement or advising staff of various products available for a particular customer query.

“In curating and providing digital experiences, we're talking about the same bots that used to engage the customers, but more intelligently. With generative AI you can move beyond the Q&A, and so the bots can do far more with customers in terms of being able to engage them on digital channels, at any time, often after hours, to help with requests, to help them with onboarding and other mundane queries.”

Beyond content generation, Amin says generative AI can also be used for summarisation of complex documents; code generation, such as converting natural language to query proprietary data models; and semantic search.

Amin says that Microsoft has an exclusive partnership with Open AI, and ChatGPT is now formally available in Azure OpenAI Service. Despite this, she says, the recent clamor around generative AI has hit everyone at the same time.

“There will always be first movers. All our top clients on the continent have taken up either proof-of-concept or minimum viable products already, so we're seeing quick adoption across the continent in this space. The reason we can do this, is not because Microsoft is special, it's because everyone was already exploring AI, and what they saw in OpenAI was the ability to solve the problems they couldn't solve yesterday.”

Charl Amin will be a guest speaker at ‘Building customer value with D365’ webinar, run by ITWeb Africa on March 29. Visit to register and hear more about how AI is being used by the financial services industry. 

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