Q&A: Ken Dodelin of Capital One Financial Corp.

Capital One Financial Corp. is perhaps the gold standard of a financial services company advancing every technical innovation imaginable from day one. In 2016, the company announced plans to transform into a tech company that provides top financial services. Chief Information Officer Rob Alexander told “Computer World,” “The winners in banking are going to be really great technology companies.” With more than 2,000 employees in Wilmington, Capital One is a key player in the Delaware fintech landscape.

Here, we pick up on that conversation with Ken Dodelin, vice president of digital product management at Capital One.

What is on the horizon for the fintech sector?

You’ll continue to see innovation in technologies like virtual assistants and chatbots, which facilitate new ways for people to interact with financial accounts, wherever and whenever, through voice or text.

Last year, we launched the Capital One skill for Alexa, giving our customers a convenient, voice-based experience to interact with their credit card, bank, auto and home loan accounts through their Alexa-enabled devices. We will provide a similar service via Microsoft’s Cortana platform soon.

We also piloted Eno, the first natural-language SMS chatbot from a U.S. bank. With Eno, customers can see credit-card and bank balances, view recent transactions and make credit-card payments using texts — or even emojis. Send a “bag of money” for an account summary or a “thumbs up” to confirm a payment.

What is the most exciting trend in fintech today?

Advances in technology have unleashed the potential of machine learning, including increased computer power, access to significantly more data, algorithmic advances in neural networks and deep learning, and open-source machine-learning software. This is exciting because it opens up the potential to help people with their financial lives in ways that we can’t even imagine today.

Machine learning is ripe with applications in all major areas of our business. We’re harnessing it for fraud protection and cybersecurity. The Second Look feature of the Capital One Wallet will identify charges that look like a mistake based on your spending habits — like a duplicate charge or a wildly generous tip. When this happens, Second Look will send out a real-time alert and work to get it resolved.

By harnessing data and analytics, we can create interactions that go beyond transactions to add value and help individuals succeed in their financial life, with ease and confidence.

What does the future hold?

While I think the possibilities are nearly endless, the most important component of innovation is to be thoughtful about the ‘why’ behind your application. Leveraging voice-activated technology is only worthwhile if you can connect the dots between why it will make someone’s life better and how it will actually accomplish that goal.

A recent update for the Capital One Wallet leverages machine learning, cloud computing and location-based technologies to provide our customers with discounts (coupons) at stores they visit often as well as nearby stores. We placed a lot of focus on quality with this experience, and deployed the strictest filters for what notifications we provide and when to provide our customers with timely insights that make it easy to save.

Another tool focused on helping people save is Paribus, which automates the process of tracking price drops at online merchants and securing the price difference. Since its launch less than two years ago, Paribus has saved millions of dollars in price-drop refunds that otherwise could have gone unclaimed.

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