Developers agree: The future of chatbots is in travel and banking
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(Left to right) Paul Walsh, Alexander Weidauer, Mike Gozzo

But one chatbot developer insists chatbots will thrive most with “sexy products”

The chatbots of tomorrow will be brought to life by insurance companies, banks, the travel industry, and telecommunications companies, a group of top developers told the audience at the ninth annual Geektime Conference in Tel Aviv on Monday.

Alexander Weidauer, co-founder of LastMile, a Berlin and Edinburgh-based company that claims to provide human-like dialog to chatbot developers, said service industries “that have a long history in customer support will be the first to build meaningful chatbots.”

“The guys who are buying it are people that are working on the problems where consumers have the really high lifetime value,” said Mike Gozzo, co-founder of Smooch, a messaging provider headquartered in Montreal, Canada, that allows clients build their own chatbots on other platforms.

“Travel is a particularly great one, [as well as] insurance, or banking. Those are the ones that are driving most,” Gozzo said. Paul Walsh, who created California-based bCRM, an analytics company for chatbots, offered further explanation on their suitability for travel in particular.

“There are a number of bots already, but I think if you can imagine a world where you’re in a group chat, and instead of having to go to a website with lots of different dropdown boxes, and radio buttons, you can just type a conversation like, ‘I like going to New York when it’s snowing, and I want to invite my friends, and this is the time of year that I like,’ and the bot understands that. It has the ability to be able to read and pick out the most important keywords in the context of the conversation, and then be able to put together a group vacation.”

“That’s why bots are far more intelligent than websites and applications, because you’ve got that machine learning and intelligence built in,” he added.

However, the developers weren’t in a total consensus. Peter M. Buch, co-founder of Swell, and its chatbot Swelly, said the future of chatbots lies in fashion. Buch’s chatbot has gained 1.3 million users in the three months since its launch, and recently raised $1 million in an ongoing funding round.

“It’s fashion,” he insisted. “It’s everything that has a sexy product. Everything that can be a lot of picture-based content, can be easily distributed to a consumer and make an interaction really obvious.”

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Brian Patrick Byrne

About Brian Patrick Byrne


Brian Patrick Byrne is a politics and technology journalist from Ireland. He has reported for newspapers, radio, and digital across three continents.

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