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AI Europe Spotlight

AI Automation: Creating an Equal Playing Field in the Financial Industry

In 2023, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an organisation that hasn’t considered using artificial intelligence (AI) at some point in its life cycle. This is no surprise as automation gives firms a competitive edge – but given AI’s accessibility, if everyone has a competitive edge, does that mean we’re on an equal playing field?

Large language models (LLM) have played a pivotal role in accelerating generative AI‘s adoption. Specifically, OpenAI‘s ChatGPT. In 2022, the service was easy to try and the level of interaction was something that many businesses had not experienced before. It opened their eyes to a new technology that could impact their businesses.

Evidence of this can be seen in a report by Auditoria, the AI-driven SaaS automation provider. In 2023, 32 per cent of respondents highlighted AI and machine learning as the top technology trend in a drive for more automation. However, AI’s promise of helpful automation isn’t only limited to the financial field. In fact, a study from Noventiq, the cybersecurity firm, revealed that automating insights could benefit sectors such as education, the public sector, the transportation industry, and healthcare.

Regions leading the AI charge

The cybersecurity firm’s report focuses on Latin America (LatAm) and notes the region-specific benefits of AI: removing the language barrier, increasing the competitiveness of the region in the global economy and breaking down the stranglehold of local monopolies allowing new entrants into the market.

Despite the very real benefits of the technology in LatAm, APAC countries are leading the way in AI’s development according to research from Statista. China and India have a 58 and 57 per cent AI adoption rate respectively, with Italy taking third place at 42 per cent. The research shows a variety of countries across different regions, including Europe, MEA, North and South America, and Asia, with an adoption rate in the mid-thirties.

Richard Karlsson, CEO, Grasp
Richard Karlsson, CEO, Grasp

We spoke to Richard Karlsson, CEO of Swedish AI firm, Grasp to understand the reasons for these adoption rates. He explains that fundamentally, in order to make the most of AI, firms must have a specific use case that tackles a certain issue customers are facing. While the development of a foundation system for AI is often found in more developed countries, the application layer can be created anywhere in the world.

As more countries adopt the use of the application layer, the more likely they are to work on a foundation layer in time. “The cost of running a startup today is so much lower than it used to be and that’s because everything is in the cloud. As a result, the foundations of AI can be easily accessible from anywhere in the world.”

Distributing wealth and opportunities

One of the biggest advantages of AI’s development is the fact it brings so many opportunities for different organisations. Large corporations can benefit from it as much as smaller firms. Previously, large organisations had the edge due to a bigger resource pool. As a result of this, more people could be assigned to researching information that was freely available on the web. The introduction of automated AI, means that all the information out there can be assessed by a bot working for any sized firm.

‘We must implement it or risk falling behind’

Smaller firms, arguably, have less to lose when they are working on developing or integrating AI. They can hit the ground running with the tech while larger organisations must spend resources on transitioning to using AI. However, due to the technology’s current popularity, many incumbents are finding that their hands are being forced into integrating it or risk being left behind.

A year ago, businesses may have had AI on their radars but it certainly wasn’t as popular as it is today. Now things are moving very quickly according to Karlsson. AI integration and development have turned into a race, and as a result, we should expect to see high levels of adoption in the next six to 12 months.

Organisations can’t be narrow-minded with AI’s integration

However, Karlsson points out that many organisations are too narrow-minded with their application of AI, purely viewing it as a means to solve one specific pain point and keep pace with competitors. While this is important, there is a much bigger picture. He notes there are three orders of effect.

“Tackling a specific issue and finding a use case to improve productivity is the first order. Many people are solely thinking about AI from this perspective. Organisations must think about the funds saved by AI and how they can be spent on analysis and other projects. This is the second order. And the final order is the consequent impact this will have on the economy.”

Taking all of this into account, Karlsson says: “There’s going to be a big, big change in the financial sector this coming year.”


  • Francis is a journalist and our lead LatAm correspondent, with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

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