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Macquarie delivers ‘AI-first’ digital banking capabilities amid regulatory concern

By Jessica Penny
3 minute read

The bank is set to bring “hyper-personalised” experiences to its retail banking customers, while ASIC has made it clear that the safe usage of AI is a top priority.

Macquarie’s banking and financial services group has announced the roll out of new artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities developed in collaboration with Google Cloud, including predictive analysis models to provide targeted in-app functionality.

The bank, which first adopted AI several years ago with its mobile banking platforms “search-as-you-speak” function and automatic expense categorisation, said it is now looking to further customer functionality.

Specifically, cashflow and transfer prediction features are set to be available this year, in addition to personalised and actionable notifications that enable customers to automate regular account activity in their everyday banking.

Commenting on the rollout, head of Macquarie’s banking and financial services group, Greg Ward, said: “Over the past decade, we’ve made significant investments in the technology that underpins our retail banking platforms, building them to be cloud-first and completely digital.

“By leveraging that investment in our technology stack and in partnership with Google Cloud, we’re now well positioned to take the next step by applying an AI-first approach across our digital and data platforms.”

According to the bank, Google Cloud will also assist in embedding AI and ML across its customer service functions, including generative AI in its contact centre with “smart agent” capabilities, and individualised suggestions to make use of Macquarie’s mobile app functionality.

“This is the progression of a multi-year partnership between Macquarie Bank and Google Cloud,” explained Zac Maufe, Google Cloud head of regulated industries.

“By combining Macquarie’s expertise in financial services with Google Cloud’s AI and machine learning capabilities, we can create new and innovative ways to help their customers manage their money and invest for the future.”

AI to create ‘new and different risks’

Macquarie’s announcement comes as both regulators and the government shine a light on the need for proper protections in an era of rapid AI expansion.

On Tuesday, ASIC chair Joe Longo said among the surge of AI capabilities and adoption, there is a real danger of entities rushing too fast without proper protections in place.

“AI remains an area of rapid change and expansion. Recent developments, especially in the field of generative AI, represent a step change, and potentially create new and different risks and issues,” Mr Longo explained.

He added that from a regulatory point of view, there is little in the way of global consensus on how to deal with AI, with different jurisdictions taking considerably divergent paths.

“The European Commission has led by proposing an AI law. It takes a risk-based approach, while prohibiting some particular forms of AI. In the UK, a ‘pro-innovation’ devolved regulatory model is proposed. China and Canada are proposing laws directed at regulating uses of AI,” Mr Longo said.

“Our own government recently issued a thoughtful discussion paper, Safe and Responsible AI in Australia, seeking input on how Australia should approach this question.”

Mr Longo emphasised that ASIC has AI as a “high and important priority”, not just in regard to wholesale markets, but also its role in — and for — the whole economy.

“As we realise the potential of tech, we have to do all we can to avoid negative disruption, learned market abuse, misinformation, discrimination, and bias — whether intended or unintended.”