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• Dec. 23, 2020

Tae Gyun Moon already knew that artificial intelligence had the power to help TD digital banking customers, and when the pandemic arrived, he saw a chance for TD to make a real difference.

It was only a few weeks after the World Health Organization had officially declared the COVID-19 public health emergency a global pandemic, and businesses across Canada were being forced to shut down operations, thousands of people were losing the ability to work, and many Canadians were suddenly facing serious financial challenges, and unsure of how to get help.

For months before the pandemic began, Moon and his team had been working on a unique digital experience that was destined to be included in the TD app. Artificial intelligence could be used to power digital nudges that offer proactive insights, personalized and contextual to the customer.

Using the predictive capabilities of AI, customers who were likely to encounter a low balance would be alerted two weeks in advance of anticipated shortfalls and would be directed to options that could help them to make decisions that would lessen the impact on their financial well-being.

The only problem is that the technology wasn't due to be ready for release until the fall.

Seeing how many people were being affected by COVID-19, Moon and his team moved quickly to gain the necessary approvals to launch a scaled down version of the technology over the summer months to customers who had opted in to receive push notifications through TD for Me, a feature within the app that sends customers relevant promotions and information.

Three weeks later, the technology was live, and directing TD customers who were facing potential financial challenges to a COVID-19 support page with links to TD and government resources and relief forms to help them navigate their situation.

"The idea was to proactively work to provide a solution even before the customers asked for help," Moon said.

"But we took it a step further and recalibrated it so that instead of simply looking for customers who might be facing a financial problem, it also looked for situations specific to COVID."

Moon said the tool used machine learning – a form of artificial intelligence – to identify customers based on scans for more than 100 different variables, including their account balance for the last three months, transaction patterns, and whether they received a government subsidy.

"If you look at somebody who is typically spending $400 a week on groceries, and then suddenly they are only spending $200, and their regular paycheque isn't coming in, the system is going to flag that customer," Moon said.

If the model determines that someone might benefit from relief and support programs, it then sends the user a nudge that states "If COVID-19 has you concerned about upcoming payments, we have options to support you."

When the customer clicks on the nudge, it would take them to the TD Ready Advice site where they could find information about relevant TD and government initiatives, including TD's personal and business financial relief programs, government resources, as well as articles and tips.

The TD Ready Advice Centre is a resource dedicated to helping customers navigate the financial impacts of the pandemic. Advisors identify and proactively reach out to customers facing financial hardship due to COVID-19, providing personalized advice and help on a range of topics, including those found on the TD Ready Advice site.

"It made sense to use the technology to test and learn," Moon said. " We were trying to get information to people who needed it, when they needed it."

TD recently announced the full integration of AI within the TD app to provide mobile app users with a more personalized experience based on their transaction patterns, adding direct value tailored to their financial needs.

Select customers who use the TD mobile app will now receive nudges that will lead them to insight cards that will display on their app dashboard.

The nudges will proactively offer information, including low balance prediction (for customers likely to encounter insufficient funds in the next two weeks) and upcoming transactions (based on recurring transactions from the last two years to help customers plan and manage cash flow).

"We are looking closely at ways artificial intelligence can create more personalized and connected experiences for our customers during this uncertain time and when digital banking is on the rise," says Rizwan Khalfan, Chief Digital and Payments Officer, TD.

According to the recent TD New Digital Customer Study, in the year ahead, almost three-quarters (72%) of Canadians surveyed believe they will spend more time online, engaging with companies digitally, but future expectations are high with 80% of respondents now expecting organizations to enhance their digital tools more often to ensure better customer experiences.

"The ability to help customers with their specific needs and provide them with information and options that can have a direct impact on their ability to make financial decisions is motivating us to continue to push the boundaries of what's possible."

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