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Consumers ready for AI in financial services

Consumers are more willing to embrace the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in financial services than the results of a new UK government study would suggest, a specialist in fintech law has said.

An online poll of 2,467 people carried out in April this year found that almost half of the British public have no awareness of how AI affects their life presently, while 50% and 52% of respondents respectively said they had no knowledge of how AI may impact on jobs or the economy.

The survey, carried out by Kantar on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), found that a majority of respondents agree that AI could improve energy efficiency, deliver faster and more accurate disease diagnosis, help families to better care for the elderly and reduce road traffic accidents. However, 82% of those questioned said more research is needed into the use of AI in everyday life.

Luke Scanlon of Pinsent Masons said the results of a separate study are more encouraging for businesses exploring the use of AI in financial services.

"As part of our industry initiative with Innovate Finance, our consumer research which we will be launching next month presents a much more positive picture in terms of readiness of customers of financial products and services to see the benefits of AI-enabled technology," Scanlon said.

"What we have seen is that with some financial institutions and service providers leading the way early in terms of the rollout of chatbots and back-office AI in relation to cybersecurity and fraud detection, the conversation as to how to maximise the benefits of AI for the customer, while at the same time mitigating the nuanced legal and regulatory risks which arise, has progressed beyond the hypothetical to a more strategic 'how to implement' one," he said.

AI in financial services was a hot topic at last week's Money20/20 Europe 2019 conference in Amsterdam. The conference is Europe's largest fintech event and was attended by Scanlon and Pinsent Masons colleague Angus McFadyen.

Reflecting on the discussion at the conference, Scanlon and McFadyen said there is growing recognition of the importance of ethical use of AI but that there remain challenges for financial services institutions over how to operationalise guidelines that have been developed so far and which function of the business should 'own' such a project.

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