Ant Financial Is Betting Big on AI

July 14, 2017

Here’s something interesting. According to the SCMP, Ant Financial, Alibaba’s $60 billion finance unit, seems to be relying more and more on AI:

 

For Ant Financial, which is valued at US$60 billion following a US$4.5 billion fundraising round last year, AI is the key driver for its business. It’s been applied to all of its operations which includes loans, wealth management, insurance services and rural finance.

 

“At Ant Financial, we say AI solves problems,” Qi said in an interview in Hangzhou. “In finance, the main problems are credit and risk management.”

 

Alibaba is apparently one of the world’s biggest investors in artificial intelligence and has been particularly keen on machine learning and natural language processing technologies. It isn’t afraid to use of them, too; back in 2015, Ant Financial launched an AI-powered chatbot to help with customer services and apparently, the bot has been improving so much that the company hasn’t been taking that much calls:

 

“…we didn’t take that many calls because the chat assistant was doing most of the job,” said Qi.

 

It has also launched an AI-driven, image-recognition system to help with vehicle insurance claims. Supposedly, 60% of China’s 40-something million yearly private vehicle insurance claims are exterior damage claims, and Ant’s new system aims to make life easier for the investigators.

 

How much easier? The company held a demonstration which showed that their algorithms were 60 times faster than humans at assessing the damage and reaching a verdict. Interestingly enough, the algo reached the same conclusion as the human’s that one of the cases needed to be investigated further, so I guess it got a lot of brownie points from its developers there.

 

That’s not all though, Ant also uses AI to detect fraud, which Qi says will raise the costs of committing fraud and thereby eradicate it in the future.

 

In any case, the best way to underscore AI’s importance for Ant is the fact that it’s Ai staff grew 300-fold in the past two years:

 

“When I moved to Ant two years ago, I was the only one working in AI,” Qi said. “Within two years, the operation has grown to 300 people.”

 

Hope that works out for them.

 

Photo: iStock

 

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