Italian banks gain interest in AI

Italian banks were looking at Artificial Intelligence (AI) with growing interest, according to a recent study by the Italian Banking Association (ABI).

Carried out by ABI’s research center on a sample of 22 lenders and four inter-bank outsourcers in 2019, the study published in late November showed that “AI is a priority for 65 percent of banks,” ABI said.

Furthermore, the investment trend was described as “growing or stable compared to the previous year” by 94 percent of the banks involved, according to ABI.

“Our interest in the Italian banks’ attitude towards AI is rooted in the belief that this technology can provide the sector with many opportunities,” Romano Stasi, Secretary-General of the Banking Research and Innovation Center ABI Lab, told Xinhua in an interview.

“The study confirmed it, showing that there is a lot of buzz within Italian banks on the various possible AI applications in the system,” he added.

According to the study, some 73 percent of the banks involved said they were developing and implementing AI solutions in the field of contact center management.

“In this sector, one-third of the projects reported are already in production, and more than 40 percent are in the pilot phase for an initial trial,” ABI explained.

It further said considerable work was underway in the field of customer services, with initiatives in this area reported by 65 percent of the responding banks.

“This (customer services) is an area that provides — among other things — different AI solutions, including providing virtual assistants and creating customized offers,” the association noted.

More specifically, according to Stasi, national lenders appeared eager to understand to what extent AI could add new solutions to remote banking.

“In a context in which banks are already offering their clients multiple channels of dialogue, there is a palpable desire (among lenders) to understand how the remote interaction could be further enriched with AI-supported resources,” Stasi explained.

He added the positive attitude towards AI is not related to the dimension of the lender.

“Attention seems quite homogeneous and spread across our banking system… large banks are, of course, quicker in technology scouting, yet we are seeing interesting examples (of researches) in small banks as well,” he said.

Founded in 1919, ABI is the trade association of Italian banks, comprising 170 lenders and 65 Information and Communications Technology (ICT) providers.