Bank of Montreal: Helping customers offload a tedious life task

By Cheryl Wilson

Despite the benefits of paying our bills on time, such as avoiding late fees or credit score dings, most of us struggle to pay them all on time, every time. The reasons range from forgetfulness to fear of seeing a low bank balance after payment.

Bankers have offered support like online bill pay for a while, but customers admit they still don’t feel in control. Different billers, amounts, accounts and due dates can create a cognitive load that works against successfully managing this life task. Any financial challenges or emotional baggage around money can make it worse.

The Bank of Montreal wanted to help its 8 million+ customers with this bothersome task, which is one of the most frequently used transactions in digital banking. 

In brief, the soon-to-be-launched BMO Quick Pay allows customers to forward their e-statements or photos of paper statements to BMO. All of that information is converted into data that’s automatically fed into their mobile banking engine, and then uploaded as preauthorized or future-dated bill payments. Quick and easy. Fire and forget it for customers.

  • Early results: 9 out of 10 customers said they’ll definitely adopt the service. And, in customer testing, bill payments were completed six times faster.

Given these positive, early performance indicators, we wanted to know more about this automation solution. The BMO Quick Pay team kindly answered the following questions for our newsletter subscribers:

Your early results are promising. Anything you want to share that would help other companies achieve early success?

We transitioned to an agile methodology and co-created this solution with our customers from the ground up. We took into consideration that their bill-paying journey starts with a statement, often a piece of paper, that they need to pay at the bank, online or via a mobile app. We wanted to offload that still-largely manual process of coordinating multiple bills, accounts, amounts and dates by automating it through IBM Business Automation Content Analyzer so customers could focus on other things.

We also needed to ensure a safe process for our customers. When we designed Quick Pay, we also vetted and co-created it with our fraud and risk partners.

The whole thing was a cultural shift for us. Previously, our check-ins and sign-offs with customers, fraud and risk partners happened at the end, after the solution was developed. This ground-up, diverse development process created a better, stronger solution.

Why IBM Content Analyzer?

There are new billers, thousands of them, created every year, so we needed the level of intelligence and machine learning that Content Analyzer provides to keep pace with the number and variety of forms coming through. It also has a highly mature ontology.

Another deciding factor: It was easy to train the predictive model and learn the user interface. No computer science experience required. The entire journey from purchase commitment to production provisioning was done in less than a week.  After provisioning, we were up and running on the same day.

Are you planning to use Content Analyzer for other use cases?

Given the market-leading nature of these solutions, the most we can say right now is yes. Looking ahead, there are more opportunities to come. With all the manual data we encounter every day, Content Analyzer can help parse it into concrete, digestible content that can be rapidly processed to improve any customer experience with automation.

If you want to look even further ahead, imagine waking up and not having to worry about your money or doing banking. Banking will be done for you automatically, alerting you if something needs your attention. That's the kind of banking experience we want to co-create with customers and partners. And automation technology is a key to that evolution.

Watch this 90-second video to hear Peter Poon, head of Digital Innovation and Channel Management at Bank of Montreal, talk about that value of BMO Quick Pay.

To learn more about IBM Content Analyzer, watch the demo video Easily capture and understand your documents using AI. (03:39)

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