BofA's clients use virtual assistant over 1 billion times

A customer uses an ATM at a Bank of America branch in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., October 11, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Oct 12 (Reuters) - Bank of America (BAC.N) on Wednesday said 32 million customers had used its virtual assistant, which allows them to check bill payments, account balances and track spending on the mobile banking app, more than 1 billion times since its launch in 2018.

Wall Street banks have lately been focused on expanding into the digital banking space with heavy research and development investments and acquisitions to keep up with customer demands and also as a way to cut overhead costs at physical branches.

"Bank of America has invested $3 billion or more on new technology initiatives each year for over a decade, including significant investments in AI," said Aditya Bhasin, chief technology and information officer, in a statement.

BofA said Erica, the virtual assistant of the second largest U.S. bank, has been averaging 1.5 million client interactions a day. Customers use Erica to locate past transactions across accounts, get notifications on merchant refund and duplicate charges, among others.

BofA is also planning to offer its users the chance to connect with financial specialists through Erica in the first half of 2023 to address a wide range of personal finance queries around mortgages and credit cards, among others.

The announcement comes ahead of BofA's third-quarter earnings due next week, with analysts expecting the lender to report a fall in quarterly profit and build loss provisions for loans that could potentially sour.

Reporting by Manya Saini in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli

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