VTB's Voice Assistant Starts Talking Courtesy of Speech Technology Center



1 April 2021, Moscow — The voice assistant recently launched by VTB in its mobile bank app employs tech provided by Speech Technology Center. This assistant is intuitive and easy to use thanks to an integrated suite of technologies provided by Speech Technology Center. It includes automatic spontaneous speech recognition, natural language processing and understanding (NLU), and speech synthesis. Customers will now be able to get their questions answered or necessary operations executed in a matter of seconds by speaking to the assistant. The bank estimates this will boost the interaction speed with the application by 2–3 times.

Launching the voice assistant is as easy as saying 'Hello, VTB!' or clicking the relevant icon in the VTB Online app. At the first stage, the assistant can advise the client on almost 800 questions related to the bank's key products (mortgages, cash loans, and cards). It will advise customers on how to use the VTB Online app and assist them in some of the most common operations, such as topping up their cell phone accounts or transferring money by phone number. All one has to do is say something akin to, 'Top up my mobile phone number for 200 roubles'. The assistant will clarify the information, asking from which card or account the transfer should be made, and then the client will only have to confirm the transaction.

The dialogue assistant does not require any redundant actions from the client, making the interaction easy. This was made possible thanks to the solution provided by Speech Technology Сenter. It can work with free-flowing, spontaneous speech, accounting for special terms and vocabulary, as well as pronunciation nuances and accents. Another advantage is its ability to operate uninterrupted in real-life conditions, even if the client's speech is interspersed with noise, including the 'mid-microphone' situation, when they are not talking directly into the mic. The well-polished technology allows to solve questions promptly and respond in a natural manner using speech synthesis, properly highlighting the key points and conveying the correct intonation, even in very short phrases.

Speech Technology Center's tech portfolio in the field of customer interaction helped in conceiving a long-term strategy. In 2019, VTB introduced automatic message processing in its contact centre (IVR); already at the pilot stage, 25% of appeals were processed automatically, halving the time the customer is connected to an operator, and today, the bank has introduced its brand-new interactive voice assistant in the mobile app.

'The speed we live at is constantly increasing, and we are now even getting used to solving our financial issues "on the go" — while driving, on the street, or in the store. Often there is no time to stop and spend an extra minute to make an ordinary transaction in the mobile bank; the pandemic and the need to wear gloves at all times make it inconvenient, too. The voice assistant is meant to solve this problem, as we speak three to four times faster than we type on a computer or smartphone. The development of digital technology and its integration into our customers' everyday lives is one of our strategic objectives, so the functionality of the VTB Online voice assistant is going to keep expanding', notes Anatoliy Pechatnikov, Deputy President and Chairman of VTB.

Dmitriy Dyrmovskiy,CEO of Speech Technology Center, adds: 'Our lengthy cooperation with the banking segment allows us to adjust our training model to account for the wide array of specific terminology used in bank contact centres, relying on real recorded dialogues. This helps our software recognize and correctly identify specific banking vocabulary. For the convenience of large businesses, we rely on the platform-based approach. The technology is available from a single centre, and different departments can leverage it for their needs, which significantly reduces the expenses, allows for developing the company strategically, and provides for cross-channel use cases. This is possible thanks to the flexibility and maturity of our technologies, designed for multiple scenarios: they can work in the call centre, in a mobile app, and during physical communication at the company's office alike. Also, we are well aware of the importance of information security, which is why our solutions are available on-prem, for the bank's secure circuits. Improving the customer experience is a key part of VTB's strategy, and we are happy to support it with our technology'.

About Speech Technology Center: Speech Technology Center (part of the Sber ecosystem) is a global developer of intelligent speech and face recognition technologies, and an expert resource in AI and machine learning, a member of ESSMA. Speech Technology Center is one of the few companies in the world that creates and develops both biometric modalities: face and voice. The voice falsification detection and speech recognition solutions developed by Speech Technology Center score leading positions in global rankings by NIST, ASVspoof Challenge, VOiCES. At CHiME Сhallenge 2020, its speech recognition technology was recognized as the best. Speech Technology Center’s solutions are in demand in 70 countries around the world.

Official website: www.speechpro.com

Media contact: pr@speechpro.com