Russian digital challenger bank, Tinkoff, is extending availability of its AI-powered voice assistant Oleg to subscribers of all Russian mobile phone operators in an innovative drive to protect consumers from spammers and fraudsters, reports Douglas Blakey

Tinkoff’s voice assistant service dubbed Oleg is smart and an innovative service offering for Tinkoff customers. But now, Oleg is being launched in a beta version for all residents of Russia who use mobile phones.

It is the universal availability that makes Oleg unique, globally. In other words, Oleg will seek to protect not just Tinkoff customers, but all consumers who use a mobile.

The new voice assistant is unique also because it can be easily activated both in the Tinkoff super app and via popular messenger services such as Telegram and VKontakte.

Tinkoff says that Oleg can answer, record and transcribe calls, including calls from unknown numbers. Oleg can also converse with callers and recognise their speech activating necessary conversation scripts.

Oleg is not just a personal assistant but also a “defender.” This voice assistant has special functions aimed to protect people from dangerous, undesirable or annoying calls from spammers and fraudsters.

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Oleg: a perfect example of AI and machine learning

Oleg is a product of artificial intelligence and machine learning. It uses technologies from the Tinkoff VoiceKit, a market leader in voice recognition and synthesis. It recognises people’s speech, can convert audio into text and activate different conversation scripts for different categories of incoming calls if a subscriber does not answer them.

The voice assistant has scripts for “useful” calls, spammers, and potential fraudsters.

A bank app that tells jokes?

Currently, Oleg can respond to more than 100 different call scenarios. The voice assistant learns as conversation scripts get regularly updated by a special team of people who regularly perform in various stand-up comedy shows.

Oleg can also hold a conversation and it can tell jokes, if it is asked to do so, or offer advice on how to get protected from fraudsters.

Tinkoff Mobile subscribers have been able to use Oleg services since December 2019. The new version of Defender Oleg available to all Russian mobile subscribers has been under development since March 2020 and it has been trained on more than 110 million calls.

Stanislav Bliznyuk, Chairman of the Management Board, Tinkoff says: Today people in Russia have two big problems while making and receiving calls on mobile phones:  spammers who inundate them with calls and fraudsters who try to deceive them.

“This is why we decided to train Oleg to turn it into a “wall” between mobile subscribers and undesirable calls, and open it to subscribers of all mobile operators. We noticed that people have a real problem for which we have an excellent fintech solution.”

Oleg includes numerous security features.

Oleg to become more intuitive-and tell more jokes

Bliznyuk adds that the next version of Oleg will be able to recognise undesirable calls in real time and automatically redirect them from Tinkoff customers and Tinkoff Mobile subscribers. Oleg will also be able to tell more jokes and to improvise.

There will be some observers who suggest that banking and security are serious matters and that the jokes aspect of the service is an unnecessary, even inappropriate feature. But it is certainly novel. Moreover, Oleg will also adapt to new call scenarios using conversation scripts by popular Russian scriptwriters. In general, it will become more intuitive.

Tinkoff: 15 million+ customers and counting

With its focus on lifestyle banking, the Tinkoff ecosystem

offers a full range of financial services for individuals and businesses. Tinkoff says that its AI voice assistant Oleg deals with 40% of customers inquiries in chats with no employee involvement. In addition, it resolves clients’ questions in the Tinkoff call centre in an average time of 40 seconds.

All Tinkoff products and most of its IT systems have been developed in-house. Moreover, some 70% of the bank’s HQ staff are IT specialists. Tinkoff customer numbers now exceed 15 million, making it one of the world’s largest digital challenger banks by customer numbers.