[ ここから本文です ]


Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash


デジタル化の波が押し寄せる銀行業界。モバイルバンキングやRPA(Robotic Process Automation: ロボットによる業務自動化)などさまざまなデジタル施策が導入され、サービス改善・拡大や業務効率改善が進められている。

The banking sector is now fully riding the digital wave. With the introduction of mobile banking, RPA (Robotic Process Automation -The automated completion of tasks by robot), and other digitalization technologies, it is pursuing further service improvement, expansion, and efficiency.


As a range of digitalization movements are gaining traction both at home and abroad, and within the global market, BTMU is aiming to go one step further and is taking an initiative to proceed with actions which have potential to change banking itself fundamentally. Tomohiro Hayashi, from BTMU Digital Transformation Division, explains how its digitalization strategy will lead itself to a next-generation bank.

BTMU’s "Futuristic Banking Service" presenting the future of banking


Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ is currently grappling with the "Futuristic Banking Service." This service utilizes latest technologies including "Kirari!", an immersive telepresence technology developed by NTT R&D. BTMU and NTT Communications cooperate to create a new style of both communication and service within the banking sector.


Through applying high resolution and ultra-realistic presence technologies Kirari!, viewers can experience remote events such as sports matches and music festivals as if they are taking place right in front of viewers. When combined with 3D displaying devices, Kirari! can create a sense of realism that was difficult to achieve on a level plane image. BTMU plans to put it to work in the trial of a future banking service.

「まず1つの取り組みとしてKirari!の技術の1つである、小型多層空中像表示技術(Kirari! for Mobile)とCOTOHAを用いたインタラクティブコミュニケーションツールによる、店頭受付及び初期的な事務手続きアシスタント等が出来ればと考えています、また今後Kirari!が実現していく技術を活用し、後方オペレーターの映像のリアルタイム伝送と擬似3D投影を通じた相談業務なども検討したいと考えています。」(林氏)

"Our first step is to introduce AI-driven interactive communication tools in our services. These tools utilize Kirari! for Mobile, a part of Kirari! technology and AI engine COTOHA. These tools will digitally generate front desk and initial procedure assistants. We also hope that it will be possible to transmit footage of back room operators in 3D and real-time to speak to customers, as Kirari! further evolves in the near future" says Hayashi.

COTOHAは、NTTコミュニケーションズの人工知能エンジン。日本語文脈の理解・記憶に強みを持ち、業務処理やコミュニケーションの自動化が可能となる。Kirari! for MobileとCOTOHAを組み合わせることで、店舗を訪れた人々は立体的に映し出された店舗スタッフ(人工知能)とコミュニケーションを取ることができるようになる。林氏によると、まだ試行錯誤段階ではあるが、人工知能を活用した対話コンテンツを店舗で発信できるように開発を進めているという。

COTOHA is an AI engine from NTT Communications. It specializes in understanding and remembering Japanese language contexts and can automate business processes and communication. By combining Kirari! for Mobile with COTOHA, visitors to the bank will be able to communicate with staff (AI) generated by 3D projection. According to Hayashi, the new service is still in the trial and error testing stage, but it is making progress in development to transmit AI-generated dialogue content into banks.

この取り組みを進める背景には、増加する来店顧客に対してより手厚いサービスを提供したいという考えがある。また一方で、これまで顧客対応に追われていた人員がよりクリエイティブな作業に従事できるようにするという狙いもある。Kirari!施策に先立ちローンチされた人工知能音声対話アプリ「バーチャルアシスタント - 銀行取引Q&A」もこの一環だ。

The reason why the bank has embarked on such an initiative is that it wants to provide its increasing numbers of customers with better service. Another reason is that the bank wants to put its employees, who have found themselves pressed for time dealing with increasing visitors, to more creative tasks. The predecessor to the Kirari! project, the AI voice app "Virtual Assistant - Bank Transaction Q&A" is also one of links in a chain towards the Futuristic Banking Service.

三菱東京UFJ銀行の人工知能音声アプリ「バーチャルアシスタント - 銀行取引Q&A」の仮想キャラクター
Caption: The virtual characters for BTMU’s AI voice app "Virtual Assistant - Bank Transaction Q&A"


As AI staff can interact with bank customers, the bank will be able to more easily acquire, manage, and analyze data on what time people come to banks, what kinds of people they are, and the purpose of their visit. So far, it has had difficulty acquiring such data by real bank employees. However, by using technology like Kirari! and AI, new data flows can be obtained from communication with customers who visit the bank. Furthermore, by combining this with voice technology, which has been making leaps and bounds lately, the bank should be able to enhance its insight with regards to their customers and this holds the potential to lead to new services.


About the objective of this project, Hayashi emphasizes "We're aiming to have one of our banking services in the future provide a service that uses Kirari! technology to generate 3D projections to address customers rather than actual employees. We think that we will have both scenarios of a human controlling the projection from behind the scenes and projections controlled by AI, but we really hope that we can reach a level where customers can't tell whether they're talking to an actual person or artificial intelligence."


In such a bustling modern society, it's not hard to imagine how customers want a service that's fast and concise. On the other hand, it's also because we are so busy nowadays that we think that people experience more satisfaction with a service that has a human-like feel. For instance, some users of the Amazon AI-enabled speaker "Echo" tend to attribute human personalities to their devices, whether these be robotic or AI, and we have started to see that there is a possibility that people are communicating with AI out of the desire to form a human connection.

An existence that cannot be defined by the word "bank"


The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ plans to use their Kirari! project as a foothold as they explore how to be a "bank of the future.


"We think that there's a strong possibility that we can vastly reduce the number of physical branches in the future. Of course, this is partly because customers will be more and more able to use mobile apps and internet services and don’t have to step foot inside a branch to do their banking, but also because that even in the event that they feel they really need to talk to a branch teller, if Kirari! is installed in a public institution it will be possible for people to complete banking procedures and feel almost as if they're in the actual bank itself," explains Hayashi.


In recent years banking services have become ever more convenient thanks to the spread of internet banking services and banking apps. However, there are still many people who want to be serviced in an actual branch. Particularly in Japan with its aged society, there still remains a popularity which internet and mobile apps have yet to penetrate, so it's estimated that the demand for a service that uses Kirari! will be high.


The Kirari! project aims to respond to changes in these kinds of demographics and shifts in values and reform banking services. Yet the image of the "Future Bank" that Mitsubishi Tokyo UFJ Bank is painting for the future will exceed our wildest expectations. The bank has been advancing its "Recreation Initiative" to transform itself into a future bank. This initiative has four pillars and one of them is "innovation through digitalization." The Kirari! project is implemented under this digitalization pillar. In order to stay afloat in a world which has seen a dramatic and sudden transformation of financial business due to the digitalization in both the domestic and global markets, the bank aims to fundamentally review the fixed concepts of existing banking duties and innovatively transform them.

"NAO", the android introduced to some Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ branches


Hayashi goes on to speak about the "Future Bank" that BTMU is aiming to realize through the digitalization initiative, saying "We're aiming to become something that can't be defined by the current meaning of the word 'bank'. This might indicate a company that undertakes all transactions related to money. We want to provide a service where customers can be serviced without even realizing it and be extremely satisfied."


BTMU is accelerating progress towards next-generation banking by grappling with cutting edge technology like AI, blockchains and Kirari! without getting caught up in the existing concept of what a bank is. This scene of customers casually interacting with AI at banks may come true in the not-so-distant future. And as future technologies continue to make great strides, if BTMU is able to competently adopt them then there is no doubt that it will begin to transcend its existence as a mere bank. I can't help but feel excited as I await to see how next-generation banking will impact society in the future.


The video below is a 3D projection that utilizes Kirari! technology. It can be played in 3D with the Kirari! mobile kit.

文:細谷元(Livit http://www.livit.media/)
Writer: Gen Hosoya (Livit http://www.livit.media/)