NatWest announces tech partnership with Microsoft and DreamQuark

The tech partnership between NatWest, Microsoft and DreamQuark will allow the bank to simulate behaviours of different environments, such as financial markets or transport networks, processing it into meaningful patterns and insights that help to accurately predict future outcomes – what the coalition calls, Next Generation Complex Analytics.

This tool will be used by NatWest to predict future risks and opportunities across its chosen markets and customer segments, using a combination of simulations run through the system, and machine learning techniques.

Cindy Rose, CEO, Microsoft UK, commented: “AI is the engine of the fourth industrial revolution. It has the potential to fundamentally transform how entire industries operate, delivering greater value to organisations, employees, customers and society as a whole. NatWest’s ambition to harness this technology to deliver more sophisticated insights, boost performance and reduce risk is an excellent example of the transformative powers that AI offers.”

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Test phase

Currently, the bank is working with Microsoft and DreamQuark to test the capability on numerous use cases within its personal and commercial businesses. For example, the tool is looking at the impact of a number of scenarios within the Buy-to-Let mortgages market and the effects of price elasticity within the small business loans market.

In testing the capability, the bank wants to understand if the new modelling outperforms the methods that the bank currently uses to accurately predict future outcomes.

Kevin Hanley, director of innovation and solutions at NatWest, said: “We are genuinely excited by the opportunities afforded by this new partnership with Microsoft and DreamQuark. By allowing us to better predict future outcomes, risks and trends, the implementation of this technology could be of significant value to our customers and shareholders over the coming years. For the first time we’ll be able to deliver an aggregated, forward looking view of the world around us, ultimately helping us build a stronger, safer bank.”

Commenting on the partnership, François de Lescure, chief sales and marketing officer at DreamQuark, said that the organisation is thrilled to work on this innovation project.

He continued: “Major organisations are already running our predictive models in production and these multiple use cases shall strengthen our expertise in delivering zero-code machine learning platform for business experts and citizen data scientists. We are excited by this promising new partnership, establishing a solid base for our further expansion in the UK market.”

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A growing relationship

This is the second project that the bank has announced with Microsoft in 2019. Earlier in the year the bank’s standalone digital lender, Esme Loans, enlisted the support of Microsoft to help build an AI-assisted chatbot and data warehouse to make faster and more accurate lending decisions for its customers.

Information Age comment

This latest partnership between NatWest, Microsoft and DreamQuark is in its test phase. So, while we can’t discern any ROI yet, it’s one to watch for other organisations wanting to enlist the help of external partners — identify individual use cases and test the solution or tool on them.

The fact that NatWest has enlisted the help of Microsoft and DreamQuark in its market prediction quest is significant. When embarking on a digital transformation project it’s important to not go it alone.

It’s also notable that NatWest sought the help of a cloud provide — in Microsoft — to help them roll out DreamQuark’s AI solution. In the past decade, cloud computing has gone from been seen as a cost-saving way to store data and applications to becoming an integral part of advancing AI and other cognitive capabilities in the enterprise.

In fact, a recent survey by Deloitte found that 49% of companies that have deployed AI today are using cloud-based services.

“Cloud adoption is motivating enterprises to undertake more proofs of concept in their firms with AI because it’s easier than ever before to get started,” said David Schatsky, managing director at Deloitte LLP in the report.

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is the editor for Information Age. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and cyber security.