Varo Money’s play for digital banking supremacy.

Artificial intelligence has probably at this point displaced the blockchain as the most buzzed about (and written about and falsely characterized) technology there is. There’s no shortage of Ted talks and think pieces about how AI will affect — or replace — workers in virtually every industry.

But in banking, actual working implementations of AI are still in their infancy. There’s quite a bit more conversation around uses cases than demonstrated benefits.  And much of what we have already seen deployed are virtual assistants that offer a basic but limited amount of functionality. This includes Bank of America’s Erica, as well as some banks that have started offering services through Amazon’s Alexa.

Meanwhile, we’re also seeing investment funds implement AI and machine learning in their investing strategies, specifically when it comes to environmental, social and governance strategies.

But interestingly, one recent survey of bank executives found that creating back-office efficiencies is just as high — if not higher — on the list of priorities for using AI than creating a robot that can tell you how much you spent at Starbucks last month. A survey of executives conducted by American Banker found that only 5% had deployed a virtual assistant. Meanwhile, when asked about their level of interest in various applications for AI, areas such as fraud detection, client analytics and risk management topped the list — well above virtual assistants. Chuck Monroe, the head of artificial intelligence enterprise solutions at Wells Fargo, is quoted in the article as saying this is likely due to banks “having to pause and say, ‘Where are we going to start with AI that has the most impact within our organization?’”

This article was published as part of Weekly Briefing No. 159