Building the future of banking: one virtual assistant at a time

Venture Lab to Silicon Valley

Venture Lab to Silicon Valley has gone through lots twists and turns since Nat Cartwright and I first started kicking around startup ideas in 2013 while completing the IMBA program in Madrid. We went through Venture Lab on different teams, shared the best entrepreneurial project prize and joined forces on after graduating.

Fast forward two years and we’ve raised $600,000, have been part of a top Valley accelerator, are jet setting around the world to attend conferences and to visit clients, are a team of 11 and are growing just about as fast as we can keep up with. We’ve gone through some pivots, but have stayed true to the same underlying core vision that got us started down this track initially: making banking and money easier to use.

Two years ago, mobile was eating the world. It is incredible to think that the App store launched only launched in 2008. It is worth pausing and thinking about how big of an impact that has had not only on our day to day lives but also on the businesses we interact with and work for. However, less than a decade into smartphone and App proliferation, we’ve already passed peak app usage – the average American downloads zero new apps per month.
Today we are at the start of the next paradigm shift.

The world is moving from apps to bots, embedded into winning instant messaging and voice platforms.

Building the future of banking one virtual assistant

We’ve already seen a number of paradigm shifts in consumer businesses in the last two decades – including in banking. In the late 1990’s banks launched websites which let us bank from the convenience of our own homes (crazy!). Then, mobile apps put personal banking in consumers’ hands on the go.

The next phase is that banking will be embedded into other services you already spend time in, from Facebook Messenger, to WeChat, Line, WhatsApp and new voice platforms like Amazon Alexa. This will work like Siri for your bank. You can ask it how much you spent at Gabana last week (probably too much if you’re an IE student…), if you can afford a reunion trip to Madrid next year or to complete every banking tasks like paying bills and sending money to friends.

This will be great for consumers. It will also be great for businesses. Nowhere is that win-win more obvious than in customer support. The reality is that we rarely use our phones to call anyone these days, yet telephone based customer support remains the default for most businesses. This will totally transform over the next few years.

Support will be done via chat in instant messaging platforms and assistants. Bots, powered by machine learning systems, will answer common questions and pass to a human for anything out of the ordinary. It’s been fun to help our banking clients build that user experience today.

Change is opportunity and fortune favors those who adapt quickly. We’ve been through a lot since our start in Venture Lab, today we work with banks and financial institutions around the world to help them adapt to this future. No matter your industry, we encourage you to think about bots and AI will impact your business because they definitely will, if they haven’t already.

About the author

Jake Tyler is an IMBA April 2014’ grad, Venture Lab graduate and CEO of is a white-label virtual banking assistant, powered by artificial intelligence (think Siri for your bank). We work with digitally savvy banks and financial institutions around the world to help them reach consumers where they already are (Facebook Messenger, Amazon Alexa, SMS, Telegram and more).

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