CommBank uses AI to help triage customers into loan deferment


To help determine who should receive additional leniency, CBA will use its “customer engagement engine”, which gives it a real-time view of every interaction all of its customers have with the bank. The system uses more than 200 machine learning models to drive automated communications with customers in the bank’s application.

“We will be using this technology when checking in with customers,” McMullan said.

“We can use it to connect with customers who seem more struggling from an income perspective to ensure they have all the support and information they need.”

“Search for benefits” functionality

As the government considers more sector-specific packages to support the recovery – the designs of which are influenced by databanks provided to the Treasury – the CBA says customers are still requesting government assistance through its app, even though the emphasis is set on reopening the economy.

Between mid-March and early May, 150,000 ABC customers began claiming coronavirus-specific government benefits through the ABC banking app. The bank has conducted analytics on customer data to proactively inform those who can take advantage of particular government support programs.

The ABC says there has been a 500% increase in the number of customers using this ‘benefit finder’ feature compared to before the crisis, which also allows the bank to see in which parts of the country there is the most stress.

“A lot more customers are going to see what’s available given how tight money can be for some of our customers right now,” McMullan said.

After meeting with top bank chief executives and regulators on Friday, when the performance of some state economies was discussed as well as the timing of CBD openings, Frydenberg said banks had been “supporting their customers on the way out of this crisis and that they would support their clients as they leave. That’s how it should be.

Industry-wide, repayments have been deferred on about 11% of major banks’ mortgage portfolios, Morgan Stanley analyst Richard Wiles said, and “the ability of those customers to meet repayments at the future will vary, largely depending on changes in employment”. and household income and their existing savings levels”.

Morgan Stanley estimated that around 40% of borrowers were more than six months ahead of mortgage payments before the crisis, while 20% had no margin and another 20% were less than a month ahead. .

It is understood that no other major bank has a system similar to the Pegasystems CBA engine. Not having a real-time record of every customer interaction could make it harder for competitors to focus resources on customers who need them most.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority is considering whether to extend the capital relief offered to banks in March on deferred loans, and whether – if planned – this is done in a comprehensive or more targeted way. APRA plans to provide more information on its thinking on July 22.

With the government’s open banking regime coming into force on Wednesday, the ability of big banks to engage with customers and deepen relationships through their banking apps will become more important in preventing customers from switching to alternative providers.

Luke McCormack, Vice President Asia Pacific at Pegasystems, described the “loyalty dividend” that CBA generates from engagement using the system. “There’s empathy, which has sponsorship at the highest level as a cornerstone of how the ABC wants to go to market,” he said.

Mr. McMullan said, “We want to create an easy, personalized and informative relationship with customers, and make it easy for them to know what’s going on.”

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