Moneyfarm acquires tech behind fintech chatbot

Ernest used AI to interact with people


UK-headquartered digital wealth manager Moneyfarm deals to acquire the Personal finance managing chatbot technology from “Ernest”.

Ernest was founded in 2015 by Niall Bellabarba, Cristoforo Mione and Silcilia.The chatbot was powered by artificial intelligence and designed to run on top of Facebook Messenger. Once connected to your bank accounts, it used natural language processing system to answer your finance related questions and advise you how to manage your money.

Many other companies like LocalGlobe-backed Cleo, Plum and Chip are using the same chatbot technology, but unlike these rival companies, the bootstrapped Ernest collapsed down after failing to raise further funds through a Crowdcube equity-funding campaign held to grow the business independently.

Moneyfarm plans to combine the technology behind Ernest with its existing product.

The co-founder and CEO of Moneyfarm Giovanni Deprà explained two potentials regarding the deal: firstly, they would use the chatbot to onboard or acquire customers in a more scalable way (currently it uses humans via chat or phone for this purpose). Secondly, it plans to advise it’s customers more expertly after making sense of their transactional data under an EU legislation in the form of PSD2, which forces banks to open up their data.

“Artificial intelligence and a conversational user interface will help us to improve our algorithms and ultimately offer a better solution to our customers”, said Mr. Deprà “As we work to integrate the Ernest technology across our product offering we’ll be able to assist over an individual’s full wealth lifecycle, from the first pay cheque through to retirement”.

Meanwhile, Ernest’s Bellabarba is pleased that the tech finally found a home, after it’s complicated entrepreneurial journey.

“Moneyfarm acquihire of the Ernest technology provides a fantastic opportunity to take the vision for Ernest to a new level, and create a more advanced artificial intelligence based advisers for consumers”, says Mr. Bellabarba.

Though details of the deal are not disclosed, reports claim that Ernest’s CTO Lorenzo Sicilia has joined the Moneyfarm team to oversee technology integration.

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