National Bank enters the chatbot space

A partnership with Montreal's Automat is the bank's first test of conversational marketing's possibilities in finance.

The National Bank of Canada has partnered with Montreal-based developer Automat to bring a banking chatbot to its customers and explore the possibilities of conversational marketing.

Launching in the coming months, clients will be able to converse with National Bank’s bot on Facebook Messenger, asking questions to determine when it would be helpful to visit the branch in-person and have an conversation with a human advisor.

“We are fortunate to have such a vibrant AI community here in Montreal, and Automat is doing pioneering work in this field,” said Lionel Pimpin, SVP of digital channels at National Bank of Canada, in a press release. “We believe that conversational marketing and AI will have a positive impact on our customers’ experience over time, and we chose to work with Automat since they are the leader in this new emerging category.”

The partnership follows the announcement last month that Automat had partnered with L’Oreal to develop a series of test-and-learn chatbots to help the company explore the possibilities with the emerging, buzzy tech.

Though bots are not yet commonplace in this sector, National Bank is not the first Canadian financial institution to explore the conversational marketing space. Alberta’s ATB Financial, small business lender Thinking Capital and RBC Insurance have all launched or tested bots with varying levels of functionality.