Ratan Tata-backed artificial intelligence firm Niki.ai has tied up with Kerala-headquartered Federal Bank to launch a chatbot-based virtual assistant on the private sector lender’s smartphone application, FedMobile.
In a statement, Federal Bank said that the chatbot will help customers access m-commerce services within the app.
Customers can recharge or top-up their mobile numbers just by typing it into the chatbot, which will then pick up the service provider and carry out the recharge while automatically debiting the money from the customer's account. Other such services include booking movie tickets and bill payments.
“For payments, the customer need not get redirected to any other platform or take the hassle of loading their digital wallets, the debit happens directly from the federal bank account and the payment is done in a flash,” Sachin Jaiswal, chief executive officer of Niki.ai, was quoted as saying by The Economic Times.
This is Niki.ai's second partnership with a bank. In late-2016, the company had partnered with HDFC Bank to create a Facebook Messenger bot named HDFC Bank OnChat to help customers avail a number of services including cab booking and mobile recharges.
Not only HDFC Bank’s customers, but anyone using Messenger can avail HDFC Bank OnChat’s services, Niki.ai had said.
The artificial intelligence company has also partnered with Cleartrip and OYO to help design a bot that can handle hotel bookings. The homegrown firm counts RedBus and Ticketgoose among its other clients.
Niki.ai is owned and operated by Bengaluru-headquartered Techbins Solutions Pvt. Ltd. It was founded in April 2015 by four IIT Kharagpur alumni, namely Sachin Jaiswal, Keshav Prawasi, Nitin Babel and Shishir Modi.
The startup built an AI-powered personal assistant named Niki, a bot that lets users order anything and provide information such as cricket scores through a chat interface. It uses natural language processing and machine learning technologies to interact with customers over a simple chat interface, and places their orders with partner businesses within seconds.
The company works on a channel partnership model and generates revenue for every order processed on its platform.
Last June, Niki.ai raised $2 million (about Rs 13 crore) in a Series A round of funding from San Francisco-based fund SAP.iO and existing investor Unilazer Ventures.
Haresh Chawla of private equity firm True North, and Arihant Patni of Hive Technologies also invested, besides some US- and Germany-based investors.
In May 2016, Ronnie Screwvala’s Unilazer, along with former Tata Sons chairman Rata Tata, made an undisclosed investment in the firm.