The Advent of AI for Financial Wellness Apps

Scott Dubois / November 26, 2017

Make no mistake; artificial intelligence – or AI – is already a key part of the financial wellness app landscape. The ability for an application to get to know its users, and to actively learn about their behaviors and their tendencies, has been the goal for developers for some time. But, it was not until 2017 that financial wellness app developers really began to embrace AI fully.

We have already seen fintech companies utilizing artificial intelligence as means to reposition their offerings in the market. Until recently, the idea of an automated assistant was somewhat frowned upon by those who prefer direct interaction with human service operators. However, the rise of AI has made things a little more complex.

A new application launched by fintech firm Douugh features an artificially intelligent entity named Sophie. Sophie is an automated financial consultant, but the Douugh team stresses that she is not a “robo-advisor” -rather, a “financial coach”, and they were quick to point out the differences.

In short, Sophie will not be advising users directly on investment opportunities. Instead, she will be using AI to understand the individual user and their habits, and work with them to promote financial wellness and improve their financial health.

Sophie is already here. So, if this is where we are, where are we going next? Below are a few of the developments we can expect in the coming year and beyond.

Positive Reinforcement

Douugh’s Sophie is undoubtedly a smart piece of digital engineering, but she is not perfect. The application will still require a blueprint in order to be effective. In other words, Sophie will need to be told what to do and what to look out for.

Advances in positive reinforcement could be about to blow this out of the water. Positive reinforcement mirrors the ways that animals learn about their environments. They are not taught how to survive; they simply navigate through their landscape using trial and error and assessing the outcome of each movement.

By combining this concept with neural networks, financial wellness app developers can create apps that learn about the user organically, requiring only minimal human input. The result is a far more efficient app with greater scope to understand and advise.

Redesigning the User Interface

With less information required from the user up front, the development of AI – positive reinforcement AI, in particular – will require a change to the user interface of the financial wellness app. Next-gen apps will feature more intuitive structures, and the user experience will reflect this.

Less direct input from the user, and a more organic learning process for the AI, will send developers back to the drawing board. The resulting redesign is likely to be far more streamlined, and will herald an exciting new phase in the development of the financial health and wellness app.

High-Quality Data Processing

We exist in the age of information, and businesses now rely on high-quality data in order to survive. If you launch a financial wellness app into the market, how are you going to gauge its success? And how are you going to make sure that you improve upon this success next time around?

The answer to both of these questions is: by analyzing the data generated by the application.

The trouble is, the volume of this data is huge. As we know, more data does not necessarily equate to better data, and it takes time to sift through oceans of figures in search of the right pieces of information.

This is where artificial intelligence will play a new and exciting role. By tasking enhanced AI systems with sorting through this data, you can free up valuable working hours to be spent on other aspects of your company.

What’s more, the insights you receive will be of the highest quality – having been vetted carefully by super-smart AI – and will be delivered in a timely fashion. Real-time data insight might not be so far away.

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