How AI-based banking assistants can improve financial inclusion and accessibility

From streamlining customer service to improving compliance and privacy, financial institutions are beginning to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve various aspects of their business. Two important areas where AI has the potential to make an important impact is financial inclusion and accessibility, trends highlighted in our Digital Banking Trends 2024 report.
 

Improving financial inclusion is about more than providing better access to bank accounts, particularly in Europe where most people already have access. It’s about making sure that everyone can make full use of the services offered by their bank in a way that suits their needs. This might mean offering a simplified and intuitive interface for those less technically savvy, or allowing the customer to communicate in their preferred language, for example. Improving financial inclusion in this way will enable financial institutions to ensure that all customers, regardless of their background or needs, can make the most out of their digital banking experience.

Accessibility in digital banking is equally crucial, particularly with the introduction of the European Accessibility Act. This new directive mandates the enhancement of service accessibility, removing barriers for older generations and those with physical needs. For banks and other financial institutions, this goes beyond just offering a simplified, intuitive user interface, and requires complying with a unified set of EU accessibility standards. The act includes online banking platforms and other customer-facing services.

In this article, we’ll look at how AI-Chatbots in Banking can become the driving force behind improved financial inclusivity and accessibility, exploring their role in breaking down barriers and making Digital Banking services accessible to a wider and more diverse population.

According to the EU Accessibility Act , after 28 June 2025 products like payment terminals (physical POS), ATMs, and self-service terminals for banking and financial services (like installed in some bank branches), and services like consumer banking services have to comply with the accessibility requirements of the Directive (EU) 2019/882. The European Standard EN 301 549 will define in more detail the requirements (current version will be revised and published till 2025, v4.1.1).

Improving inclusivity and accessibility in banking

The integration of AI-Banking Assistants in banking is revolutionising the way financial services cater to a diverse audience. This transformation is underpinned by a commitment to responsible AI, ensuring that these advancements are fair and inclusive.

Financial inclusion through multilingual banking services

One of the largest challenges preventing financial inclusion is the need for multilingual banking services. For example, there are four official languages in Switzerland. And in Germany, more than 5% of people (over 4 million) speak another first language other than German. So the ability to engage with a banking service in any one of those languages is crucial. AI-based agents, such as AI-enabled chatbots, can improve the customer experience by providing support in multiple languages. Imagine messaging your bank in your home language and receiving a reply with all the words, terminology, and colloquialisms that you recognize and understand. From expats and international students to older generations and digitally savvy millennials, millions more people will benefit from multilingual AI agents.

Barrier-free banking

For some sections of the population, like seniors (10% of seniors suffer serious visual impairment) or people with specific physical needs, interacting with a mobile banking app can feel daunting. Even the most intuitive visual user interface can feel complex and inaccessible to those with little technical confidence, or fiddly for those with a tremor or poor coordination. Therefore, integrating voice recognition through an AI agent may offer a more user-friendly alternative. Instead of needing to navigate through tabs and screens, seniors could simply speak to the app to request their balance. Or someone with poor eyesight could simply ask the AI-enabled app to make a payment to a contact. In Germany, where nearly 20% of the population is over 65, this approach could empower millions more people to manage their finances easily and effectively.

How to improve financial literacy?

Financial literacy refers to the knowledge and understanding of various financial concepts, tools, and practices that are necessary for making informed and effective financial decisions. It involves having the ability to manage personal finances, budget effectively, understand financial products and services, and make sound financial choices based on one's goals and circumstances.

Improving financial literacy is a global challenge. But this is another area where AI-based solutions could play a key role in opening up access to banking by educating and guiding people through financial products and services. On one hand, AI can help educate customers, similar to the approach taken by Erste Bank where tailored educational content is offered based on the customer’s profile. On the other hand, financial advice can be democratized with conversational AI solutions, similar to Netcetera’s Omnium proposition. AI banking assistants can be the bridge that connects service providers with the individual needs and interests of a diverse group of customers.

The challenges of AI-enabled inclusion

While AI has huge potential to make banking services more inclusive and accessible, it isn’t without its challenges. Ensuring security, non-discrimination, and neutrality is as crucial as an AI agent’s ability to adapt to diverse customer needs.

Context-Aware Communication

AI agents must be sophisticated enough to offer personalized banking experiences without compromising customer privacy. Deciding on the most suitable way to communicate sensitive information is one example. Imagine an AI-enabled app recognizing when a customer’s in a public area, and deciding to show the customer’s bank balance on the screen rather than reading this sensitive information out loud. Similarly, if a customer requests to share their banking details with another individual, an AI agent could ask for confirmation before sending the information.

Human-Centric Customization

Tailoring AI interactions to individual preferences is another important aspect of both convenience and security. Different demographic groups may have different expectations from their digital banking experience. For example, Gen Z and Alpha generations, who are quickly becoming banking customers, might prefer quick, intuitive interactions that use the latest technologies like contactless payments and mobile banking apps. In contrast, users who are more accustomed to traditional banking may prefer a more structured approach with clear instructions and regular confirmations.

Achieving this personalization involves AI-enabled systems that adapt and learn from how the customer uses the product or service - similar to how streaming services like Netflix customize recommendations based on customer engagement.

Diversity in Training Datasets for Bias detection and mitigation

Another aspect to consider when integrating AI within financial applications is to avoid unintended biases. For instance, an AI system might inadvertently develop a bias if it was predominantly trained on data from tech-savvy, younger individuals who are often more comfortable banking using a mobile app. To avoid bias, AI agents must be trained on diverse datasets, thereby avoiding stereotypes or biases that could arise from a homogenous dataset - not all younger customers are confident using banking applications or have the same level of skill, attitudes, and preferences, for example. At Netcetera, we’ve enabled our AI Banking Assitant to be context-aware but also to respond consistently and neutrally, regardless of the language a customer uses - for example, if a customer is rude to the chatbot, the chatbot will never be rude back.

Key takeaways

From breaking language barriers to adapting to usability needs, AI will enable a more inclusive and accessible banking experience for millions of people around the world. But integrating AI into mobile banking, web banking or digital wallet applications involves more than just ensuring security. It’s also important that AI is used responsibly, with a strong focus on inclusivity and accessibility. This might involve designing tools that cater for multiple languages and adapting to diverse usability needs, ultimately creating a banking experience that’s accessible and beneficial for everyone.

To learn more about how AI-Chatbots in Banking could improve financial inclusion for your customers, book a demo with our experts.

Lennart Schmidt

Associate Sales Director Digital Banking

More stories

On this topic

MORE STORIES