NOMI Find & Save, available in the RBC Mobile app, uses artificial intelligence to make predictions about how much money consumers will need for spending—and how much they can save.
Canadians are well-known to fret about their finances. A lot. Research suggests that we have notably more anxiety about managing our money and preparing for the future than do residents of other comparable countries.
At the same time, we’re setting less and less of our earnings aside. According to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Canadian household savings rate has dropped steadily since 1982, with Canadians expected to save just 1.7 per cent of their disposable household income in 2020. This is significantly less than Americans (6.9 per cent), Australians (6.7 per cent) and Germans (10.5 per cent).
Many of the traditional tools aimed at helping us manage our money—such as software programs and complicated budgeting strategies—can add to our fretfulness and eat up our time. So, when RBC was exploring how advances in artificial intelligence (AI) could make it easier for Canadians to stay on top of their finances, the bank decided on an approach that was, first and foremost, stress free.
Enter RBC’s suite of NOMI capabilities. Just as AI technology in, for example, music- and movie-recommendation services makes everyday life more enjoyable, NOMI leverages the power of AI to help consumers get a better grip on their finances, right on their mobile devices.
With NOMI Insights, RBC is helping clients be more mindful of their finances. This includes sharing personalized trends based on a client’s spending and savings habits and offering helpful notifications, like a reminder that a subscription is coming up for renewal, which provides the client an opportunity to shop around for a better deal.
“Nobody wants to spend a Saturday night sitting down with spreadsheets and receipts,” says Rami Thabet, Vice-President of Digital Product at RBC. “We are using artificial intelligence to work through mass amounts of data to provide meaningful insights and take the burden away from the user, giving our clients just the information they’re seeking.”
As the only AI-driven savings product offered by a major bank in Canada, NOMI Find & Save is even more proactive in helping clients save. It analyzes cash-flow patterns to find money clients won’t miss and automatically saves it. Something that is usually an afterthought—or gets no thought at all—is completely automated.
“Most clients say that the number one reason they haven’t saved money regularly is the misconception that their day-to-day expenses won’t allow them to,” says Thabet. “But we have found that AI is stellar at identifying money that can be automatically allocated to savings.”
Through NOMI Find & Save, RBC clients save an average of $193 each month. The bank has also found that clients who use NOMI Find & Save are saving two times more regularly than those with traditional do-it-yourself savings products.
Although AI eliminates a lot of the guesswork and grunt work of managing finances, RBC has made sure that control remains in the hands of each client. For example, clients can pause the functions of NOMI Find & Save, though RBC has found that few end up wanting to. “After they get past the initial nervousness and see that it’s acting in their interest, very few opt out,” says Thabet.
The newest feature, NOMI Budgets, allows clients to forget pen and paper or spreadsheets by taking the thinking—and the calculator work—out of setting up a budget. NOMI Budgets looks at spending patterns and then recommends a personalized monthly budget based on a client’s habits. It also zeroes in on five categories, helping clients manage what they spend on transportation, shopping, dining, entertainment and cash withdrawals. NOMI Budgets will notify clients when they reach 50 per cent, 75 per cent and 100 per cent of their budgets. With regular updates and the budget tracker, it’s easy for clients to see how they’re doing.
Because personal finances can be so emotional for many people, NOMI uses neutral language—insights, not hints or recommendations—to inform clients about what it’s discovered. While old-school financial-analysis and budgeting tools tend to be adopted by people already actively managing their finances and prepared to invest lots of time in getting set up, NOMI has almost no learning curve.
This fall, having positioned itself as the leader in AI for personal banking, RBC introduced NOMI Insights for owners of small- and medium-sized businesses. The service gives owners more control over their monthly cash flows and provides analyses across several spending categories tailored to businesses.
“Business owners often have similar questions when thinking about their finances, like, ‘How am I spending my money? How much cash do I have? And what expenses are coming up?’” says Thabet. “But, because businesses typically deal with larger cash-flow amounts and unpredictability around payments, we tailored the insights to their specific needs.”
As AI takes an increasingly central place in our world, Thabet says RBC will continue to offer new, innovative capabilities through NOMI. It’s an evolution that will be led not by technology alone but by feedback from clients about what they need to better manage their finances. “We want these tools to be meaningful,” he says.