Westpac looks outside ChatGPT for its generative AI experiments

Westpac looks outside ChatGPT for its generative AI experiments

Backs "safer" ChatGPT-like alternatives.

Westpac is looking to a finance-specific large language model (LLM) to cushion its entry into experimenting with generative AI, seeing it as “more accurate, safer, and intuitive” than ChatGPT.

CTO David Walker last month described ChatGPT as "overhyped", though he saw the category of tools and models under generative AI as "likely to be transformative" in banking circles and beyond.

Walker's latest comments suggest that ChatGPT may not have passed internal risk assessments at Westpac.

This could explain why the bank has previously declined to comment on potential ChatGPT use cases, if the technology was deemed too hard for bank staff to work with, as well as exceeding risk thresholds.

In its place, Walker said the bank will use an LLM created by Kasisto as the basis its generative AI experiments.

The bank is both a financial backer and customer of Kasisto, whose technology increasingly sits behind Westpac's chatbots and ensures they deliver a consistent customer experience.

Over the weekend, Walker unveiled the expansion of the Kasisto relationship in a in a LinkedIn post.

“During the week, Westpac Growth Labs has been leading conversations across the whole bank to establish use cases for Kasisto's own industry large language model," Walker wrote.

“As it's an industry LLM, it is specifically trained for financial services ... therefore it is more accurate, safer, and intuitive for our customers and employees, and still delivers a ChatGPT-like experience."

Walker said the bank had hosted several US-based Kasisto, including its CEO and CTO, as it kicked off the experiments.

He characterised the move as the bank “getting serious about generative AI”.

Asked by iTnews for clarity on Westpac's current position on using LLMs and generative AI, Walker said the bank's "priority is to always ensure its safe, trusted, and secure" and that "all AI [use] aligns with our responsible AI practices.”

Walker doubled down on the bank's reservations in making use of ChatGPT.

“Where ChatGPT is trained on the internet and other public sources, Kasisto’s growing large language model (LLM) is specific to financial services," Walker said.

“Application of an industry-focused LLM will provide greater accuracy and a more intuitive experience for customers."

Westpac's security teams have separately said they are keeping close tabs on generative AI developments and how that might change the bank's risk posture.