For artificial intelligence, beyond the buzzwords and the breathless anticipation lies the reality.
Data exists everywhere, of course — and in the payments space, the data is effectively a deluge. Increasingly, companies across all links of the commerce value chain are harnessing machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) in a bid to mine that data, and to make actionable decisions in real time measured in milliseconds.
But utter the two-lettered acronym “AI” and the discussion rampages, free-range, across a wide landscape. AI, some argue, means all sorts of jobs will be replaced. Others argue that it poses a danger that computers will think for themselves, with all sorts of unintended consequences.
To echo an old TV show, the truth is out there — and it seems vastly different than some might assume.
PYMNTS queried 22 payments executives to get a sense of what’s real, what’s in the here and now, and what lies ahead. We also asked for concrete examples of how their own firms — spanning payments processing, digital IDs and other functions — are leveraging AI right now, such as in core processing and risk scoring.
In some cases, there are cautions against overreaching or assuming AI can be a solution to all challenges within payments. Some describe cautious or piecemeal approaches to AI technologies, noting that the models need constant refinement and human attention to work properly.
Such context is especially important given the significant technology and human capital (not to mention money) that must be deployed.
Right off the bat, for those who fear job destruction on a grand scale: Some of the executives said there will always be a place for the human touch (and interaction) when banks and other FIs interact with business and consumer clients, even as AI helps analyze those clients’ behavioral data to help steer the right service representatives and financial products their way.
AI also has a place in retail settings, said executives, in store or online — powering self-service kiosks, for example, or helping to bring chatbots to the forefront when consumers need help completing a transaction.
The end result across those financial services and commerce settings, as a result of judicious use of AI, are vastly improved customer experiences.
AI can also help transform the way B2B is done, helping buyers onboard suppliers, streamline payments and, of course, keep up with the ever-onerous demands of compliance and regulations — and even helping them to access credit to manage working capital more effectively. In many ways, AI can help firms do more with less, according to observers.
All in all, we’ve just begun to scratch the surface of what AI can do.
But to get there — to visualize and plan an intelligent (pun intended) strategic course that brings AI into risk scoring, fraud fighting, eCommerce and any number of other realms — it’s important to think clearly about what’s at stake and what’s possible now, and near-term. It’s early days yet, but evolution moves swiftly in the digital world.
Read on, then, for 22 wide-ranging opinions, demonstrating some real intelligence about artificial intelligence.