In a bid to move from a \u2018Mobile-first\u2019 to \u2018AI-first\u2019 platform, Axis Bank has announced to launch intelligent banking chatbots in partnership with Active Intelligence Pte (Active.ai), a Singapore-based fintech platform. The initiative aims to bring mobile banking services for its customers in the form of a conversational interface.\r\n\r\nThis implies that users will now be able to chat through the Axis Bank mobile banking app and messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger. The chatbot will also allow customers to pay bills, transfer funds, manage credit card spends, shop via messaging platforms and more.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe are enabling new digital technologies to make it easy and simpler for customers to engage with us. Users are moving to an unstructured form of engagement, we want to be where customers are. Active.ai will help us engage with our customers in a conversation in a personal and contextual manner in the digital space,\u201d said Rajiv Anand, Executive Director (Retail Banking), Axis Bank. \u201cRepeat value of transactions, a\u00a0large number of customers, and daily usage on these platforms make a compelling reason for the bank to be one of the early adopters of conversational banking in the BFSI space,\u201d he added.\r\n\r\nActive.ai utilises AI to help financial institutions develop personalised and contextual interaction solutions which can be used by consumers through web, mobile, social and messaging channels. In simple terms, it offers a tech platform for banks, wealth managers, and financial services companies to interact with customers. It provides a virtual assistant, powered by AI, to the bank\u2019s users, to help cater to their emergent banking needs.\r\n\r\nThe startup recently raised $3 Mn in funding from IDG Ventures India and Kalaari Capital, towards expansion of its AI Product platform and payments in Asia and North America.\r\n\r\n\u201cA new era of personalised banking and commerce is emerging wherein customers can converse with brands and financial institutions in natural language through their preferred mode of communication. In the future, customers will just walk to micro branches with voice-enabled IoT devices to engage with the banks for services,\u201d said Ravishankar, CEO and co-Founder Active.ai.\r\n\r\nWith 3,106 domestic branches (including extension counters) and 13,448 ATMs across the country, Axis Bank claims to have a network spread across 1920 cities and towns, as of September 30, 2016. The bank also has nine overseas offices with branches at Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai (at the DIFC), Shanghai and Colombo; representative offices at Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Dhaka and an overseas subsidiary at London, UK.\r\n\r\nIn June 2016, Axis Bank also launched \u2018Thought Factory'\u00a0- an innovation lab facility to accelerate innovative technology solutions for the banking sector, in partnership with Zone Startups.\r\n\r\nAdditionally, Axis Bank has also launched the \u2018Hack for Hire\u2019 programme for identifying talent from across the country through Hackathons for the in-house innovation team at Thought Factory. Another first in the industry, the bank is creating a competitive platform for fintech professionals to resolve real business challenges leveraging emerging technologies.\r\n\r\nAnother private sector bank, which is rapidly moving ahead with the technology turf is ICICI Bank. In September 2016, it introduced robotic process automation for 200 business processes across various functions of the bank. It launched iMobile Smart Keys in August 2016, which would enable two-step transactions in 30 seconds without using the bank\u2019s app. ICICI has also claimed to launch 165 features in various digital banking initiatives, starting with the release of iMobile, the very first banking app back in 2008.