Citizen AI hits a wall – business loan processing


Banks are actively looking for ways to integrate artificial intelligence and machine learning, but Citizens Financial Group in Providence, RI has not found a complete solution for processing commercial loans.

Scottie Venable, director of commercial lending operations for the company with $ 161 billion assets, told an audience at the Finastra Universe conference this week that his unit has started using certain AI tools to serve customers. But document processing and loan analysis, he admitted, remain difficult to automate.

“Commercial loans by nature are much more complex,” Venable said.

The panel highlighted the sometimes imperfect transition that awaits banks as they wish to digitize their back-end processes and simplify even the most monotonous banking tasks.

“In the three years I’ve been in this role, my operations team has engaged more directly with customers,” instead of focusing on menial tasks, said Venable.

This change has happened in part because the division uses virtual assistants, which are a simpler form of automation, for responsive process management. Venable said he uses up to 14 bots for email and other miscellaneous tasks. “They were essential in saving us time and effort,” he said. “We cannot implement them quickly enough. “

But Venable added that there were still some gaps he wanted to fill.

He explained how his team still manually enters data into the citizens’ system, up to three or four times for the same document.

Venable said he was in talks with fintechs to help citizens improve the way they enter and manage data, which is more of an issue for banks now that the amount of money has never been given. data they collect and process on a daily basis.

“It’s kind of a new frontier for us,” Venable said. “We’re excited about what’s out there, but we’re only scratching the surface in the commercial space. “

Citizens are “nowhere near” where they want to be as far as using AI for loan documents, he said.

“When we talk about the concept of AI, I think of extracting information from our loan documents,” he said. “We are still dealing with a lot of paper.”

Venable’s digitization efforts, led alongside fintechs, show how attitudes about opening up internal systems to third parties have changed over the years.

Open banking concepts are expected to increase these partnerships, but CIOs and other executives remain wary of such relationships.

“When a fintech knocks on a bank’s door, the CIO suffers a heart attack,” said Martin Häring, Marketing Director of Finastra, during a panel on open banking. “CIO thinks it’s difficult to share data with a fintech.”

Open banking has been slow to gain traction in the United States, in part because banks fear they have something to lose with more intimate fintech partnerships. They are confused by the ability of fintechs to access critical customer information that can be used to make more attractive products.

While regulations in Europe have forced banks to adopt open banking, the United States still lags behind in this area despite the efforts of BBVA Compass and others.

Häring urged conference attendees to embrace open banking concepts as a way to treat their institutions more as a platform fintechs can build on.

The panel referred to Green Dot as an institution on the right track.

The digital banking and payments provider has a business banking-as-a-service platform that companies like Intuit, Stash, Uber, and Walmart use.

“There are things happening in the United States,” said Alan McIntyre, global banking leader at Accenture. “Green Dot is a classic open banking use case. Through his partnership with Uber, he has become the largest creator of business bank accounts.

For now, banks seem happy with fintech deals that address certain areas such as AI and machine learning.

“Many of our customers are turning to AI to improve their operations,” said Gary Huang, director at Accenture. “They are looking to improve the customer experience, and that is the key.”


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