Banco Santander, the Spanish lender, has thrown its money into two artificial intelligence companies in an effort on the part of the financial industry to embrace AI.
According to a report by Reuters, citing sources familiar with the deals, Santander’s venture arm, InnoVentures, acquired stakes in Personetics Technologies and Gridspace. Personetics provides automated customer service, while Gridspace has software that can learn and interpret language. Reuters noted the size of the two investments weren’t disclosed. Reuters noted the two investments on the part of the VC arm of Santander underscore how lenders of all stripes are getting more interested in using AI for a slew of different uses, such as hiring, identifying fraud, enhancing call centers and even providing product recommendations. Personetics, for example, created chatbots that are able to respond to questions posed by customers via Facebook. Reuters noted Societe Generale uses Personetics to answer questions about equity funds in its banking unit located in Romania.
Gridspace’s technology is geared toward banks to help them monitor conversations employees and customers have to improve upon customer service at call centers. According to the report, InnoVentures was created in 2014 to invest in financial technology startups that could improve the bank’s online and digital offerings. When the arm was created, it got $100 million to invest but was given another $100 million in July. It has so far invested in more than a dozen companies. Some of the investments include SigFig, iZettle and Digital Asset Holdings.