December 6, 2022
Westpac is taking a considered approach to responsible artificial intelligence use cases as it makes use of the technology to improve consumer services. Westpac’s general manager for data platforms Meggy Chung said that the more advanced the technology gets, the greater the concern around personal data usage grows. The bank has already deepened its AI…

Westpac is taking a considered approach to responsible artificial intelligence use cases as it makes use of the technology to improve consumer services.

Westpac’s general manager for data platforms Meggy Chung said that the more advanced the technology gets, the greater the concern around personal data usage grows.

The bank has already deepened its AI capabilities through a five-year Microsoft Azure deal earlier this year, which sees the bank strengthen the creation of AI-driven customer insights.

Chung said in a Westpac Wire post that consumer concerns surrounding AI usage were a “key topic” at the bank.

“We’ve spent a lot of time considering not only how we continue to leverage AI to improve services, but also the approach we take to applying AI responsibly, managing the associated risks and shaping and complying with legal frameworks as they inevitably emerge,” Chung said.

“Regulation of AI is high on the agenda of many lawmakers around the world.”

Chung pointed to “at least 60 countries” which have built methods AI policies or ethical frameworks, including the European Union which “is arguably the most advanced in terms of regulation”.

“The EU Artificial Intelligence Act is expected to come into force next year, aimed at driving an ecosystem of trustworthy AI for EU citizens and organisations by setting up legal frameworks to protect consumer rights,” Chung said.

Canada also tabled its own proposed AI laws while China passed new regulations around algorithms usage and the US looking into an AI bill of rights, according to Chung.

Chung, who oversees Westpac’s data management strategy execution, said the Australian government has taken “a ‘soft law’ approach to regulation” leaving companies to “effectively self-regulate”.

“Given where the world is moving, we believe regulation in Australia will inevitably emerge, both as a means to encourage adoption of AI, as well as to manage associated risks to build trust among consumers.”

Chung added banks are “well positioned” to aid the creation of regulation and “are in advanced conversations about this with our local regulators and industry bodies.”

“At Westpac, while we will continue to drive these conversations, we don’t tend to view responsible use of AI as a regulatory or legal obligation. We view it as a moral obligation. 

“As a bank, we have always had a duty to customers, spelt out in strict policies, to ensure the privacy of customers’ data and govern its use.

“This obligation now sits at the heart of a set of AI principles we created in 2018.”

Chung said that at its best, “AI can bring incredible benefits to our everyday lives.”

“But when exploring new territory, there are many unknowns, so we must do everything in our power to avoid missteps which will only serve to erode consumers’ trust.” 

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