Russia digital banking: Don’t ask Oleg

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Tinkoff Bank’s virtual assistant is good for eating out, but not food for thought.

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Russia’s Tinkoff Bank is famously at the bleeding edge of technology.

So, when Euromoney heard that its new digital assistant, Oleg, could discuss “open-ended topics like the meaning of life”, we were quite excited.

Keen to find out what a bot from the land of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Chekhov had to say about existential questions, we asked a couple of Russian speakers with Tinkoff accounts to put Oleg to the test.

Alas, Oleg doesn’t seem to have learned much from the Russian greats.

Joke

To one user who asked for advice on managing a heavy workload, he replied simply: “Study” – but declined to specify what topic. He did tell her a joke, but it was of a standard well below that found in the average Christmas cracker.

Others found him less forthcoming. He asked one tester what music she liked, but was apparently so unimpressed by her answer that he refused to reply. And when she asked about the meaning of life, he redirected her to a Tinkoff call centre.

On the plus side, his interlocutors report that Oleg is a whizz at basic banking functions and even things like making restaurant reservations – or would be, under more normal circumstances.

But those seeking enlightenment in these trying times might want to look elsewhere.