“Chatbots Are The Perfect Channel To Make Finance More Accessible”

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Jim Burke, COO of the financial chatbot builder, spoke to us about the hype behind AI, the future banking and chatbots.

How would you describe in a few words? is an enterprise bot builder platform for financial institutions to build, manage and optimize chatbots for customer engagement. Chatbots are transforming investment services from static websites and apps to intelligent personal conversations in messaging applications. Our platform allows financial institutions to access this new channel.

What inspired you to create the chatbot builder? How did it all start?

We have been building financial apps and models for financial institutions for the last 3 years. We started building chatbots because we realized that it is the perfect channel to make boring old finance more accessible and fun for users and an opportunity for banks to improve their customer service and offer personalized content. After we started building white-labeled chatbots for clients we realized we would need a platform to continue scaling our service. "Chatbots Are Perfect To Make Finance More Accessible"You focus specifically on financial services. Given that this still is a sensitive matter – in what ways do you expect consumers to interact with the chatbots built through your site? What’s their main benefit?

Messaging platforms are more secure and personalized than email or phone trees. People spend the majority of the time on their phones in messaging apps and it is where they are most comfortable. Instead of downloading another app or picking up the phone you can get your questions answered and access information about your bank account and investments right from the chat.

Talking with a bot is new for most consumers but studies show that people are comfortable sharing sensitive and financial information on messaging platforms. We can also look East for a view of the future. In China, consumers use WeChat to do everything through chat. I mean everything from booking hotels and appointments, purchasing cars, managing their finances, making investments, or applying for mortgages.

Are you using internally? How does that affect the viewpoints of the development team?

Yes! We are our own client. I’m a non-technical guy so our dev team’s goal is to build the tools so that I can easily build the chatbots. The immediate feedback loop has been extremely helpful and allowed us to think about scalability from day 1.

Chatbots have been a huge topic for a while now. What makes stand out of the crowd? What is the key differentiator?

Chatbots are a huge topic and with recent improvements to the messaging platforms, we will see a huge spike in the prevalence and usage of bots across all industries. Inbest is focused on financial services because this is our area of expertise. We are experts in building the financial models that power our bot platforms.

We recently featured an interview with a pan-Europen VC, who mentioned Artificial Intelligence is the buzzword of 2017. What do you think? Do people expect too much from AI?

The average person is probably expecting too much from AI or has no idea what it is. In the tech world, I think the excitement is justified. We finally have the large amounts of data and the processing power to meet many of the promises of AI. Also, the growth in open source libraries and the opening of AI APIs from Google, Facebook, IBM, etc. has really spurred development and allowed companies to leverage and build on the most cutting edge Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing technologies.

What’s the most considerable pivoting maneuver that the team has undertaken throughout the journey so far?

We started the company to build web and mobile apps for large banks and pivoted to building chatbots. We joke that it wasn’t much of a pivot and merely a change to the front-end.

What is the most memorable moment throughout the history of

We are an international team. I am from San Francisco, Andoni our CTO is from the Basque Country and Manu, our CEO is a Galician that has been living in Edinburgh for many years. We have both known Manu for a long time and had been working on the project remotely for a few months. It was an amazing day when we all first met as a team in Edinburgh. It’s an amazing city!

How did your team meet?

Manu and I were flatmates in Barcelona during University and became close friends after misadventures on a road trip through Morocco. Andoni met Manu while working together on financial products through Almis, a leading financial software platform and consultancy in Spain. The idea for Inbest started when I visited Manu in Edinburgh. We were both working on startups at the time and after trading war stories started dreaming of building a company together. Once Manu recruited Andoni (also a second-time founder) as CTO I knew it was time to make the move and join full time.

If there is one thing you could wish for in improving the European startup ecosystem – what would it be?

So far I have been amazed at the amount of support provided by organizations and the government to foster entrepreneurship in Scotland. For example, Inbest is supported by Entrepreneurial Spark RBS Fintech Accelerator, The Bright Red Triangle at Napier University, The University of Edinburgh and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. We have also received a SMART grant for innovative technology from Scottish Enterprise.

There is a close-knit tech community here in Edinburgh that feels like family and has a comradery that has since been lost in Silicon Valley. We have yet to experience the hurdle of raising later investment rounds but have heard the complaints from later stage companies. So far no complaints!

What’s one piece of advice you can give to fellow founders for their startup?

Over-communicate with your team especially at the very early stages. Leave nothing assumed. It’s okay to repeat yourself a lot or go over the final details. The most important thing is that your vision and your teams’ roles are clearly defined.




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