Building AI in banks


What kind of challenges banks need to face when implementing AI? Is technology the biggest worry in that transformation journey? How to identify use cases for AI and make them real? Antti Myllymäki, Head of Artificial Intelligence at OP Financial Group, gave an insightful speech during the 6th CEE SME Banking Club Conference about AI implementation at  OP Financial Group (Finland) that started in 2017.


The first question that every bank should ask is what kind of approach they would like to take. Should they start with the strategy or go straight to use cases? „Someone may think that you must have a clear goal when starting that kind of journey, to know where you are aiming and where you want to go. But for OP having the visibility from 6 to 9 months ahead at a time was just enough. That proved us pretty good.” 

OP chose to work on the use cases. The question that should be concerned next is how to find the balance between quantity and quality of the use cases? In 2018, after a year from the kick-off of the project, OP conducted 30 use cases but less than one year later it was already 70.

Does the AI journey start when the bank employs their data scientists or is it really necessary to hire ones when you have no interest in use cases? Maybe using the consultant that would complement the banks’ ability would be the wisest thing to do? And what is the role of a data scientist? The data itself and the balance between internal and external delivery capability would be another important consideration. OP capability of the data scientists in the year 2017, when the AI journey began, was 5 internal scientists plus 25 external ones. In the year 2020, the number of internal data scientists increased up to 30.

The balance between centralized funding versus business funding as well as technology and tools (in 2018 OP switched and migrated almost all content and all use cases that had already been done to AWS,) are also important matters that should be taken into consideration when planning the implementing of the AI.

Watch the full Antti’s presentation during the CEE20 SME Banking Club Conference: