Aug 7, 2023 - Business

How Wells Fargo is dominating AI transformation

Illustration of a robot arm holding a bag of money.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Banks in America, including San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, are winning a global race to transform banking into an AI-first industry, according to a new report from banking data provider Evident.

Why it matters: AI ventures can help a bank set itself apart with new products and processes.

What's happening: Top banks are using AI to be more competitive in markets — such as high-frequency trading and payments — and to improve performance in fields ranging from fraud detection to marketing.

  • Some are actively investing in AI startups, from incubation to scaling — sometimes aiming to generate client returns, other times looking for their own direct access to AI innovations.
  • The banks analyzed by Evident employ more than 650 AI researchers, making them key players in the fight for talent.

By the numbers: North American banks published 80% of all bank AI research and made 60% of all bank AI-related investments in 2022, while filing 99% of all AI-related bank patents in 2021.

  • JPMorgan Chase & Co. is leading the field in research, Capital One is leading in patents, and Wells Fargo is leading in investments.

Zoom in: Wells Fargo, based in the AI capital of the country, has deployed several AI-powered tools in the past few years, including virtual assistant Fargo and its Customer Engagement Engine (CEE).

  • CEE relies on modeling and adaptive machine learning to identify customer signals in real-time conversations and offer tailored service-related messaging.
  • An open-source data science platform is also in the works.

Of note: Wells Fargo has endorsed the Biden administration's AI Bill of Rights, which aims to prioritize safe and effective use of AI.

What they're saying: "Just like every other industry, financial services will see a significant disruption in how we build products and services we offer," Swarup Pogalur, Wells Fargo's head of digital and AI capabilities engineering, said in a June update that laid out the bank's AI plans.

  • "Maintaining a 'wait and see' approach to AI innovation looks increasingly risky given the pace at which the leaders are accelerating away from the rest of the field," Annabel Ayles, co-founder and COO of Evident, said in an email to Axios.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios San Francisco.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More San Francisco stories

No stories could be found

San Franciscopostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios San Francisco.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more