Home NEWS Science Cutting edge tech holds huge promise – so why are British firms not investing?

Cutting edge tech holds huge promise – so why are British firms not investing?

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Daniel Hegarty founded and runs Habito, an online mortgage broker which uses artificial intelligence as part of its system to process applications and match borrowers with loans.

“Humans are really, really bad at doing arithmetic and filling out forms and holding 80 different credit policies in their heads and matching them to the right customer,” he says.

There is still a human element – he found customers are unwilling to conduct such an important transaction through a clever machine alone, and value the chance to talk to a living, breathing adviser. “We use machines for sorting and humans for talking,” he says.

Nonetheless, Hegarty believes he is four or five times more efficient than a traditional broker, with the capacity to grow much further using the technology he already has.

However, he is aware these are early days in what is sometimes called, rather grandly, the fourth industrial revolution.

“We are super early on. We have essentially mechanised a manual process. That is interesting and it provides a tangible consumer benefit. But the real transformation in financial services is still some way off,” he says.

That belief is based on his concern that right now, people must shop around on a regular basis for new loans or savings accounts with imperfect information, leaving them reliant on the marketing power of big finance firms, rather than finding the best product out there.

“When machines pick the products it is not about the marketing budget, it is about the best product,” he says, hoping it will force firms to compete on value. “That will be a transformational point.”

It is not only services which could be revolutionised by new technology. Manufacturing, too, faces a wave of much-hyped new tech which is yet to fully hit home.

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