NatWest launches Cora+, the latest generative AI upgrade to the bank’s digital assistant

  • Existing Cora service remains available 24/7 to help answer day-to-day banking queries
  • Cora helped assist customers with 10.8 million queries last year in solving their banking needs

NatWest is announcing the launch of Cora+, an upgrade to its digital assistant, Cora, developed in collaboration with IBM. NatWest is to introduce the new version of Cora during London Tech Week and will be one the first banks in the UK to deploy generative AI through a digital assistant.

Cora supports customers in answering banking queries 24/7 through natural language processing and machine learning capabilities. In 2023 the digital assistant helped customers with 10.8 million queries in their day-to-day banking needs, an increase from just over 5 million in 2019.

Cora+ will build on current capabilities into an intelligent virtual agent that uses generative AI to provide more intuitive, conversational customer experiences. This will initially be introduced as a 12 week pilot to address learnings and updates, to be fully rolled out at a later date.

Key features of Cora+

Multi-channel integration

Cora+ will be able to access information from multiple secure sources in one place, including a variety of products, services and information about the bank. Working with experts from IBM’s Client Engineering team to develop the initial proof of concept, NatWest has evolved Cora’s capabilities into a more intelligent, interactive and conversational experience. For the pilot these enhanced interactions will be available in certain journeys.

This will provide a range of benefits NatWest customers, including:

Enhanced conversational abilities through AI

With generative AI, customers can ask questions and receive responses in a more natural, human style and are provided with links to requested information, which they can either view immediately or bookmark for later.

Previously, when a customer asked Cora about a mortgage or lending product, a link would be provided to a general page which would require a customer to research and scroll through different options. Now, Cora+ will be able to understand the context and nuances of each query to provide more accurate and personalised responses for certain journeys.

Proactive assistance

Once Cora+ is fully rolled out, the digital assistant will be able to anticipate customer needs, without requiring the customer to think of what to ask, based on past interactions and transaction history. This allows Cora+ to offer proactive suggestions and insights to help customers manage finances more effectively.

In situations where intervention from a customer service agent is needed, IBM’s enterprise AI and data platform will concisely summarise the conversation so that the human agent can quickly understand what support the customer needs and the nature of their interaction with Cora.

Broader knowledge base

Through machine learning Cora+ is trained on an extensive range of banking topics and customer queries, enabling her to assist with a wider variety of enquiries than before.

Data from NatWest shows five of the top queries for Cora are: cancelling a transaction, change of address, asking for a statement, requesting a new card and opening an ISA.

Wendy Redshaw, Chief Digital Information Officer of the NatWest Group’s Retail Bank said:

“As a bank we are committed to harnessing the latest technology to enhance customer experience, and the introduction of Cora+ is a major step forward in how customers interact with NatWest. By collaborating with IBM, we have been able to build on Cora’s success and leverage the latest innovations in AI, and we’re proud to be one of the first banks in the UK to do this. Cora+ will not only provide a more seamless ‘human’ experience, but also be a trusted, reliable digital partner for our customers.”

David Lindberg, CEO of Retail Banking at NatWest, said:

“AI has been a key tool for NatWest since we introduced Cora in 2017 and nearly 11 million queries were answered last year alone to help customers manage their money. Today, we’re taking the next step by introducing Cora+ and becoming one of the first banks to use generative AI in this way to provide more personalised and responsive support. Cora+ is better able to anticipate their needs, make suggestions and respond in a more ‘human’ way to questions. Cora+, using generative AI, will transform the way our customers interact with us on their day-to-day banking needs.”

Nicola Hodson, Chief Executive of IBM UK and Ireland, said:

“The launch of Cora+ is an exciting new milestone in IBM’s longstanding partnership with NatWest. Generative AI has opened the door to new levels of customer experience and we look forward to collaborating with NatWest to expand the capabilities of Cora+ to benefit more customers, safely and securely.”

Cora+ can be accessed through various channels, including the NatWest website, mobile app, and social media platforms, making it convenient for customers to get help from different devices and locations.

Customers will continue to have the option to speak on the phone with customer representatives during business hours.

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