Briefing

RBC files AI patents on purchase prediction in latest tech push

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Canada’s largest bank has filed a patent application for a method of predicting when customers are about to make large purchases. It’s also looking to patent a text-analytics tool tasked with helping investment advisers identify themes early, such as the rise of cryptocurrencies. (Financial Post)

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Talking point: RBC is facing pressure on two fronts. Fintechs, which have already peeled customers away with free or low-fee products, are now launching their own banking arms. Simultaneously, the world’s largest tech companies are encroaching on RBC’s turf. As the bank’s CEO, Dave McKay, put it last year, the FAANGs are earning “economic rent” by collecting information on RBC’s customers via search and advertising data, then selling it back to the bank. These patents are designed to emulate that process. Once RBC knows a customer is looking to make a large purchase, the bank could sell ads to them regarding that item, according to one of the patents. RBC is in the midst of a broad tech push. In November 2019, The Logic reported the bank was looking into a cryptocurrency platform for investments and online purchases, as well as blockchain-based smart contracts and investment vehicles.