AI innovations could revolutionize banking
Charlotte's signature industry has dabbled in artificial intelligence — as have the city's new tech startups
You’re reading Part 2 of The Charlotte Ledger’s “Faces of AI” series, an up-close look at Charlotte-area people and companies that are using artificial intelligence.
Startups and big banks have been investing in AI for years — making Charlotte ripe to emerge as a leader at the intersection of AI and finance
By Hannah Lang
In the beginning, Aru Anavekar wanted bots everywhere.
By 2017, the software developer had spent just over a decade working at some of Charlotte’s largest financial services companies. She’d also had an up-close look at the way that mortgage lenders reached out to prospective borrowers. It was a “chaotic” process, she described, that often relied on spamming potential clients with phone calls.
Anavekar thought she could make that process easier by automating pieces of it with artificial intelligence. She launched her company, Botsplash.
But the market wasn’t quite ready, she said.
“It’s easy to say ‘Hey, in 10 years, the world will look like this.’ But as a startup, it’s very hard to portray that picture and have (people adopt) that idea.”
Human labor was still cheap and plentiful in mortgage and auto loan offices. AI-powered chatbots needed large datasets Anavekar didn’t yet have. And she was funding her new firm with personal savings, not outside investment — meaning she needed to earn a profit, fast. She kept the Botsplash name, built a slightly different kind of software to sell and temporarily shelved her AI aspirations.
Until about three months ago.
It was “perfect timing,” Anavekar said of the recent explosive popularity of generative AI programs like ChatGPT. In the wake of all the hype, her company has launched two new AI-powered products. “We had everything already in place. It took just a quick few weeks.”
For several years, a number of leaders in Charlotte’s banking and fintech sector have been placing early bets on the power of artificial intelligence, sensing that the technology would eventually transform the field of financial services.
Now, the explosive popularity of consumer-facing programs like ChatGPT is catalyzing a new wave of AI inventions that could change the way we open a bank account, apply for a car loan or manage our retirement savings — paving the way for Charlotte to become a leader in the intersection of AI and finance.