Toronto Star

TD sees big role for AI-driven features

Behind-scenes advancemen­ts designed to help detect fraud, create better lending models

- KEVIN ORLAND BLOOMBERG

The biggest contributi­ons artificial intelligen­ce can make to financial institutio­ns are ones customers may never see, said Toronto-Dominion Bank’s Tomi Poutanen.

While the bank released details of new AI-driven features in its mobile-banking applicatio­n Thursday — such as digital nudges when a chequing-account balance is getting low, or a notice that a big bill is coming due — Poutanen, Toronto-Dominion’s chief AI officer, said his unit may be making its most important advancemen­ts behind the scenes.

One such use is combing through data to identify networks of bad actors who team up to cheat the bank’s insurance division, such as an auto-repair shop, towing company and scam artist working together on fictitious auto-insurance claims, Poutanen said. Another is using the granular data the bank has on its customers to create better models for deciding which customers are safe bets for loans, he said.

“If you get your credit decisions right and you manage fraud well, you can run a very efficient bank,” Poutanen, 48, said in an interview Wednesday. “That’s an area where AI is very applicable.”

For banks, smoothly functionin­g technology and the ability to prevent digital fraud have become more important during the coronaviru­s pandemic, which has forced much of financial institutio­ns’ business online. Toronto-Dominion has seen more than one million customers enrol in digital banking since COVID-19 struck, and it now has more than 14 million active online and mobile customers across North America.

Poutanen co-founded Toronto-based AI firm Layer 6 Inc. and moved to TD when the bank bought the startup in January 2018. Layer 6 has kept its name within the bank and has more than tripled its staff since the takeover.

The unit is working on developing uses for its technology with every one of the bank’s business lines, including its capital-markets division, where AI can improve decision-making, he said.

“Where there is lots of customer data, and where the enterprise makes datadriven decisions, that’s where AI can help,” Poutanen said.

 ?? ANDREW VAUGHAN THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO ?? The Toronto-Dominion Bank released details of new AI-driven features in its mobile-banking applicatio­n Thursday, but some of the most important advancemen­ts are happening behind the scenes, says chief AI officer Tomi Poutanen.
ANDREW VAUGHAN THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO The Toronto-Dominion Bank released details of new AI-driven features in its mobile-banking applicatio­n Thursday, but some of the most important advancemen­ts are happening behind the scenes, says chief AI officer Tomi Poutanen.

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