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The Future Of Payments In An AI-Enabled Future

Unless you’ve been in a cave or on a beach over the past month (cue revenge travel meme), you’ll no doubt have heard of ChatGPT, the chatbot on steroids from the company OpenAI that is now fielding tender investment offers at a valuation of US$29 billion. Not bad for a 7-year-old start-up, although some may argue, somewhat slow by recent silicon valley standards…

More impactful than the funding itself, are the implications for the financial industry. Indeed, if anything, ChatGPT’s response above likely underestimates the potential impact that AI, and the platform itself, will have on the future of cross-border payments.

Not Really “Customer Service”

If you are like me, you’ve likely never had a satisfying automated customer service experience with your bank. Rather than typing out well thought-out replies, my strategy for dealing with a chatbot online or any telephone response system typically involves punching enough ‘9’s or typing “email” enough to get to a human, or at least an email interface. Let’s be honest, the current batch of chat bots are…awful.

But imagine a ChatGPT enabled future. Think about a future where you could contextually write out “Send $1,000 to mom.” Or “Open a letter-of-credit for $50,000 and send to our bank.” The possibilities are endless, and more importantly, realistic.

Data. It’s Still All About The Data

The current beta version of ChatGPT draws a very firm line when it comes to financial recommendations, e.g. “I’m sorry, I’m not able to give you specific portfolio recommendations as it depends on your individual investment goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon… It’s also important to consult with a financial advisor before making any investment decisions.” Rightly so. If you are taking buy signals from a chatbot that you have never met in person, you might want to reconsider if you should be investing at all. In fact, maybe you’re better sending your money directly to me instead… Although ChatGPT obviously doesn’t have access to our personal bank information, in the future, in the hands of a bank, the technology very well could.

Our argument has always been that Blockchain / DLT is an elegant technology, but largely an incremental upgrade on existing business models and technology infrastructure. To a certain extent, banks could ignore DLT today and will still have a profitable payments business tomorrow. The possibilities of ChatGPT really illustrate the potential future of finance and payments cannot be ignored. Incorporate a few more buzzwords in a sensible way like embedded finance and hyper personalization, and we could see a completely new paradigm in financial services.

If you haven’t read-up on the technology, or more importantly, tried the tool, I would highly recommend it. The implications are profound.

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