GenAI & How ChatGPT Could Inform Financial Services – A Conversation with Visa’s Margaret Motamed

Visa Employee

Margaret Motamed, Vice President of Technical Product Program and Business Management for Data AI platform, has a degree in electrical engineering and computer science, as well as an MBA. She worked as a developer early in her career, but for many years, Margaret has been in management, product management, and program management roles at the intersection of development and business. At Visa, Margaret’s team works on program management, releases, engineering solutions, architecture, business operations, risk, and compliance.


Visa’s adoption of Generative AI is a “paradigm shift,” according to Margaret. She has already seen the ways in which the technology has had an impact inside of Visa, describing it as “a difference maker for each of us.” Margaret further described the implications of GenAI within the context of Agile project management.


“In Agile, we talk about the ‘What’ and the ‘Why.’ Usually, the product management team comes up with the ‘What’ and ‘Why,’ and after the leaders in tech provide their thoughts, the two groups come together to own it. The developers have all this freedom in determining the ‘How,’ with lots of creative and innovative ways to enhance what they are doing. GenAI just brings one more way for developers to think and work beyond their current scope.”


She was especially interested in the impact GenAI will have on the democratization of AI, referencing Coursera founder Andrew Ng, who has been outspoken on the topic, drawing comparisons between access to AI and electricity today. “Looking at [Andrew Ng’s analogy], we can see that democratization is opening new possibilities for all of us.”


Margaret shared a personal example to illustrate the usefulness of AI models. Before coming to Visa, Margaret worked at a company where one of her responsibilities was managing the translation of documentation. The translation management at the time was primarily done through translators who were living in the country, because the local translators were more proficient and produced the best quality translations. Margaret had to manage her own cost center budget, and the fluctuating foreign exchange rates made things complicated. “It was very painful for me because I didn't know how much I would need to pay in the next quarter, as I was being held accountable for meeting my budget,” she explained. “I would go to the translation vendors and ask them, ‘Hey, can we agree on a number for the rest of the fiscal year?’ We both just had to make guesses and neither one of us would be right.” Margaret was a business-person and this was a financial problem. She said that at the time, she did not have GenAI available as a tool she could utilize, but times have changed. “We can build models much faster than we could have in the past. Now, we have to look for financial problems to help solve them and get ahead of them.”


One of the potential challenges that Visa and the world may face with Generative AI involves managing power and resources. Margaret talked about computing power and how intensive certain applications of the new technology could become. “I think we are going to find that we need to be thoughtful in our use of AI and in how we are going to utilize our resources.” Margaret pointed out that although we are still in the early days of GenAI, which could mean more than a year before we see a “ROI,” it is important to focus on responsible use of AI and data, and Visa is very committed to doing so. “We need to challenge the status quo, but we also need to be wise and not just set up a rule for ourselves that says everything needs to use GenAI everywhere tomorrow. It’s important to get people out of their comfort zone, to make them think differently, but using GenAI may not make sense in some cases.”


Margaret used the example of owning a non-electric car with very low mileage. One could argue that it would make more sense and be more environmentally responsible to keep the current car with its low mileage, rather than getting a new electric car. Margaret concluded, “In this case, it may not make sense to invest in and use the new capability, and that can be true everywhere that we look. As a financial industry, as a technology company, and even as individuals in our homes, we should invest where it makes sense to invest, where there will be a key result or an outcome that is worth achieving.”


In her professional and personal life, Margaret utilizes ChatGPT’s capabilities daily. In addition to using ChatGPT to speed up or automate repetitive tasks, Margaret has found that Visa’s secure version has been especially useful for “synthesizing information, distilling it, and changing its format or structure.” She also enjoys experimenting with the technology to find new ways to analyze documents and sort information into categories. “It’s such a great innovation launch point for all of us across Visa and beyond. It’s something that is democratized and available for people to take advantage of today. For me that is really what is the most exciting."


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