KBC clients get to know Kate, their new digital assistant
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    KBC clients get to know Kate, their new digital assistant

    KBC CEO Johan Thijs. © Belga

    KBC Bank has announced the arrival of Kate, the name for their new digital personal assistant for clients.

    Kate is a voice-operated smartphone app, which not only allows the client to organise their banking affairs, but also retrieve personal documents, make investment suggestions and even buy and pay for a train ticket.

    The idea seems to be the brainchild of CEO Johan Thijs.

    I had been thinking about this for a while,” he said. “It was only in the summer of last year that we really started to think about it and together with director of innovation Erik Luts, we presented the project to the board in December.”

    The bank’s IT department has been working full-out on the project since then, and this week Thijs presented the prototype via a webinar.

    That included a live interaction with Kate, in which he transferred €10 to a certain Anne. Kate then went further.

    Some energy prices in your area are 40 euros lower than you’re paying,” Kate advised. “Do you want to save money?”

    According to De Tijd, the app works perfectly in English. Other languages are on the way, Thijs promised.

    Far from being new, Kate is one of the outcomes of a digital strategy KBC introduced three years ago, with a long-term budget of €1.5 billion. Kate cost a relatively minor €40 million.

    That’s when we started building digital platforms, digitising processes and adding functions to the app, from paying for a refuel with the phone, to getting a discount in a store,” Thijs said. “We are bringing all that together now.”

    Kate – full name KBC Assistant To Ease (your life) – will be automatically added to the KBC app for personal clients from November. Business clients will follow later. The new app will offer some 15 much-requested functions, but the bank promises new functionality will be added along the way.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times