Artificial Intelligence in Financial Services: A Historical Review


Artificial intelligence (AI) has been significantly transformative across a wide array of industries, but none more so than the financial services sector. From algorithmic trading to credit scoring and fraud detection, AI has fundamentally reshaped finance over the past few decades.

Pre-2000s: The Early Days of AI in Financial Services

The history of AI in finance dates back to the late 20th century when the industry started leveraging computing power for algorithmic trading. The 1980s marked the advent of statistical arbitrage strategies, using computer models to identify and take advantage of price discrepancies. Initially, the use of AI was mostly limited to quant hedge funds and proprietary trading desks at investment banks.

In the 1990s, as AI continued to evolve, banks started using rule-based AI systems for fraud detection. These systems relied on predefined sets of rules and patterns to identify fraudulent activities. Meanwhile, credit scoring began to incorporate machine learning (ML) algorithms, improving the prediction accuracy of credit defaults.

2000s: The Rise of Machine Learning and Data Science

The new millennium marked the rise of machine learning in finance. Advances in computational power, coupled with an explosion of digital data, enabled financial firms to apply more sophisticated AI tools. Banks started using ML algorithms for predictive modeling in areas such as risk management and customer segmentation.

The rise of online banking and mobile applications generated vast amounts of data, leading to an increased use of AI for personal finance tools. Startups such as Mint.com, launched in 2006, began providing personalized financial advice using AI and machine learning.

2010s: The Expansion of AI Across Financial Services

The 2010s witnessed AI becoming pervasive across financial services. High-frequency trading (HFT) powered by AI became dominant in stock exchanges globally. Robo-advisors, offering automated portfolio management services, saw significant growth.

The decade also marked the rise of AI in fraud detection and compliance. Traditional rule-based systems proved inadequate in tackling evolving threats, leading to the adoption of ML models. AI-driven fraud detection systems could identify complex fraud patterns in real-time, enhancing the security of financial transactions.

AI’s role also extended to credit risk assessment, with AI models being used to predict loan defaults more accurately. Lending platforms such as LendingClub and Prosper started using ML models to assess the creditworthiness of borrowers.

2020s: The Era of Deep Learning and FinTech Revolution

The current era is marked by the advent of deep learning and the FinTech revolution. Financial services firms are now leveraging AI in unprecedented ways, from chatbots providing customer service to AI-driven financial planning tools.

Deep learning models are now being used for a wide range of applications including portfolio optimization, predicting market trends, and providing personalized banking services. Companies such as Alphasense and Kensho are using AI to analyze financial data and news, delivering actionable insights to investors and traders.

Furthermore, AI is playing a critical role in the FinTech revolution. FinTech startups are leveraging AI to disrupt traditional banking and financial services, providing personalized, efficient, and affordable services.


From its nascent stages in the late 20th century to its pervasive role today, the journey of AI in financial services has been transformative. As AI continues to evolve, we can anticipate further revolutionary changes in the industry, creating new opportunities and challenges. The future of financial services, driven by AI, promises to be more efficient, secure, and personalized.