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Yodlee acquires conversational AI startup

The data aggregator Envestnet|Yodlee has purchased Abe AI, a conversational artificial intelligence startup, the company announced Thursday.

It plans to add the startup’s technology to its application programming interfaces, financial wellness applications, other retail banking applications and future Envestnet wealth management offerings.

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“We had been working with Abe AI for almost two years,” said Brandon Rembe, senior vice president of product management at Yodlee. “During the two years, we found the team to be highly capable of delivering on this interface, an ecosystem that anyone can plug and play into anything. They have a powerful platform. Add that to the enriched data we have and that’s one plus one equals five.”

Yodlee, a unit of Envestnet, did not disclose the price of the deal.

As firms look to improve their use of conversational AI in banking, they've become more focused on developing the conversational abilities of bots and refining the performance of financial transactions carried out by AI. For startups, this has meant finding vast and rich sources of bank customer data to better train their bots. Abe AI will now have access to Yodlee's data science teams and troves of enriched transaction data from the financial institutions that plug into the data aggregator. (A bank or a fintech can still use Abe AI's conversational AI even if it isn't plugged in to Yodlee.)

Yodlee will be able to offer its banking clients conversational AI abilities through a variety of channels, including Alexa and Google Home.

"There's a lot of demand in the banking industry for conversational AI," Rembe said. "Last quarter, Bank of America announced nearly 5 million user accounts on erica, their AI-empowered chatbot."

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