In what is being billed as Australia’s “first virtual assistant for home loan applications,” a new chatbot has been launched by UBank to help answer customers’ home loan questions.

Known as RoboChat, the bot was built by IBM Watson to act as a virtual assistant to guide customers throughout the home loan application process. Far from being a finished product, RoboChat is still “in training” and aims to “help reduce the time needed for customers to complete the form by offering [help on-the-spot].”

The bot has been trained on data collected from customer questions submitted through UBank’s LiveChat experience, and has been tested by “dozens of users and iteratively trained,” according to UBank.

The bank said that RoboChat’s AI will continue to learn as “more customers engage with it, becoming smarter and more user-friendly over time”.

Lee Hatton, CEO of UBank, told The Adviser that RoboChat was created to help customers overcome the “fear of how long it will take to fill out the applications”.

“RoboChat was designed specifically to guide customers through UBank’s online home loan application form. UBank doesn’t use mortgage brokers, so RoboChat, along with our experienced advisers, can help customers as they decide which home loan is right for them,” said Hatton.

Once a user selects the option that signals he wants to start a home loan application, the RoboChat option opens up alongside the online application process. The user can ask the bot questions. Once the application is completed (i.e. all the questions have been answered), a home loan specialist will be in touch to move the process forward.

The chatbot is available 24/7 in order to provide real-time assistance. Customers can still contact a bank adviser to assist with more “specific support or [questions] fitting to [an] individual situation”.