Nationwide invests in behavioural AI startup

Nationwide Building Society is continuing to put money into tech start-ups to not only offer its customers access to latest tech, but also as an investment strategy.

Nationwide is bringing a Canadian start-up Scaled Insights to the UK through an investment that will see the behavioural artificial intelligence company move its headquarter to Leeds.

Scaled Insights, which is currently headquartered in Canada, uses AI to analyse peoples’ speech which informs the system how it should respond to a person.

It is all very well automating customer services but and one size fits all doesn’t work. If the exchanges between the customer and computer are ineffective or even annoying for customers this can do more harm than good. The Scaled Insight software aims to tailor automated conversations to individials.

According to Nationwide: “The AI system [can] generate an impression of each persons’ personality traits, much like when you listen to a new person speak and create an impression of what they’re like in your mind. The make-up of people’s linguistic personalities is unique as a fingerprint, so understanding what motivates them means organisations can use this insight to offer a more tailored and personalised service.”

The investment is part of a £50m fund, known as The FinTech fund, which the building society launched in June to support startups that can deliver technology that the mutual 15 million members could use.

Although the building society is looking for innovation in banking as a platform, the fund is not only about fintech. Nationwide said it wanted to back tech startups in areas such as delivering technology to support finances in the home, apps to bring communities together and personal data and identity services. The FinTech fund, as it is known, will be part of the building society’s technology strategy. As well as money startups, the programme will have a senior member of Nationwide staff with relevant experience to provide support and expertise.

Tony Prestedge, deputy CEO at Nationwide Building Society, said: “In future, this technology could help us understand and better serve our members, which will allow us to talk to them in language that is appropriate to them all while maintaining the human service that our members expect from us for more complex discussions.”

Stuart Sherman, CEO at Scaled Insights, said: “We believe that the next steps in one to one communications will rely on computer systems understanding humans as individuals, and tailoring messaging and offers towards each person’s unique needs.”Nationwide is continuing to invest heavily in the latest tech, with an additional £1.3bn being channeled into its already ambitions IT spend.

The fund supports Nationwide’s ambitious digital plans. A total of £4.1bn will to be spent over the next four years which will see the creation of 1,000 jobs, a fintech fund, huge and the opening of a new tech hub in the UK, amongst other things.

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