Montreal-based National Bank of Canada is teaming up with an artificial intelligence (AI) firm to step up its digital engagement with customers, the bank announced on Wednesday.

National Bank has entered a strategic partnership with Automat Technologies Inc. of Montreal to introduce a chatbot that will enable the bank to engage with both existing and prospective clients.

The bank will initially use Facebook Messenger to engage with clients to determine whether they should come into a branch for financial advice. The service will launch in the coming months, the firms said.

"We are fortunate to have such a vibrant AI community here in Montreal and Automat is doing pioneering work in this field," says Lionel Pimpin, SVP, digital channels, National Bank, in a statement. "We believe that conversational marketing and AI will have a positive impact on our customers' experience over time and we chose to work with Automat since they are the leader in this new emerging category."

As part of the arrangement, National Bank is supporting the development of a French-speaking chatbot so that customers can be engaged in both official languages.

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