By Thynn T. Win, Chief Technology Officer of ThitsaWorks
We at ThitsaWorks are building a chatbot to improve financial inclusion in Myanmar, a country where 8 out of 10 people don’t have access to formal financial services. We are excited with the potential that this chatbot brings to assisting the underserved communities in Myanmar get access to much needed financial information.
Why are these bots so popular nowadays? Are we building a chatbot so simply follow the trend?
Well, the answer isn’t so simple.
We see the appeal of chatbots and at the same time, we understand why some may be turned off by it. Human beings are social animals and many of us prefer face-to-face interaction with other people. No matter how intelligent they may be, there will be situations where the chatbot may not understand us. How many of us have repeatedly pressed 0 on our phones, trying to get through to the operator so we don’t have to listen to the automated menu options. So why bother with a bot? It’s clear — to help save time and provide instant gratification.
(1) With the popularity of text messages, people are now spending more time texting than using voice calls. We’re used to typing and receiving responses instantaneously, and in the era of instant gratification, chatbot gives us just that. We no longer have to wait 20 or 30 minutes for an agent to be available to take the call. With a chatbot, we can get answers in a matter of seconds.
(2) Technology has become so advanced that these are no longer just a bunch of automated responses. With ever powerful interconnected machines, vast amounts of information can be consumed and processed in milliseconds. With access to a wealth of information and increasingly powerful machines, the bots are far more knowledgeable and incredibly fast at “thinking”. In the name of “division of labor”, we believe humans and bots can share the work load, with each focusing on their strengths. In the case of calculating loan installments/interests or locating Microfinance Institutions nearby, bots can certainly handle them better. (Faster response with wider coverage).
There are also positive side effects, such as giving users flexibility, anonymity and availability.
Users can test different loan scenarios, with varying loan terms and amounts without having to feel like they are imposing on anyone. The bot is available 24/7.
If not for nothing, it’s fun to watch them imitating humans and mature over time. How many times you smile when Alexa answers something you don’t expect or Siri quips at you?
There are many other things that bots are no doubt better at and we intend to take full advantage of that. So stay tuned. :)