As the Nigerian Stock Exchange Launches X-Bot, are Chatbots in Nigeria any More than Just Social Tools?

Nigerian Stock Exchange Launches X-Bot, Another Facebook Powered Chatbot

The Nigerian Stock Exchange has joined the cadre of financial institutions using chatbots. The Nigerian bourse recently announced the launched of its very own chatbot, called X-Bot. This means the NSE is the first stock exchange in Africa to develop a chatbot.

According to reports, the X-Bot is an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered Chatbot that responds directly and automatically to enquiries from users. Beyond enquries, the chatbot also provides financial data and other real-time data of companies on the bourse.

“The Exchange has always been at the forefront of innovation,” says NSE CEO, Oscar Onyema. “And the launch of the X-Bot marks yet another significant milestone in our continuous adoption of new technologies with a customer-centric focus.

“With X-Bot, investors in our market can access on-demand market information, news and events on the activities of the Exchange and the various products and instruments that are listed and traded on it.”

Why Chatbots?

A chatbot is a virtual robot powered by artificial intelligence. It allows people perform specific actions or get more information without the need and delay of human-to-human interaction. Users can book appointments, make an order, or ask questions about a service and expect instant replies or confirmations.

Interestingly, over the last two years, companies have increasingly adopted chatbot technology to simplify different tasks. Operations like online customer enquiries are now being manned by chatbots, not humans.

In Nigeria, a number of companies have begun using chatbots for some of their operations. Last year, two Nigerian banks unveiled their own chatbots designed to make banking easier for customers. UBA led the way, launching Leo way back in January 2018. Diamond Bank followed with the launch of Ada.

A few other banks developed “AI powered” customer facing features with capabilities limited to WhatsApp Business.

The NSE, thus, is the latest Nigerian institution to adopt chatbot technology.

Chatbots Not So Smart

However, as fiery as the chatbot trend has been so far in Nigeria, there’s just one problem; they’re too social and not smart enough. These chatbots are not as powerful as their operators tout them to be.

Although they can facilitate transactions and provide some information, they fall short of being revolutionary or transformative of business operations. And the reason is simple. They are all powered by Facebook.

The X-Bot, Leo and Ada chatbots are all powered by Facebook Messenger. As a result, these bots are purely social tools, not real business tools.

It’s understandable why Nigerian companies chose this route though. Developing such technologies is just not about business. Developing efficient AI technology is both expensive and time-taking, and it will distract the overall purpose of these companies.

Yet, a true benefit of AI powered chatbots is seen in the work of Symphony, a US based company.

Symphony creates chatbots that helps banks and other finance companies to integrate with each other. With various banks running multiple products, Symphony’s chatbots help banks talk to each other. It helps them make and settle trade as well as facilitate other activities.

Symphony’s services are being used by top US companies, and it gets 10,000 new individual users per month.

Perhaps chatbots development in Nigeria is restricted because it focuses much on financial institutions. But it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be smart.

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