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Evident's latest report on AI finds "limited signs" of research and patent activity among UK banks

HSBC leads with just 10 research papers since 2017, versus JP Morgan’s nearly 300 papers.

Alexandra Mousavizadeh, Evident

Alexandra Mousavizadeh and Annabel Ayles / Evident.

According to a new report on AI innovation in banks, the UK’s largest banks are “rarely” in the conversation regarding the research and application of artificial intelligence.

Benchmarking firm Evident looked at Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, NatWest, Nationwide and Standard Chartered and found “limited signs of research activity”.

HSBC was the research leader with 10 papers on AI published since 2017, a figure that pales compared to the nearly 300 papers published by North America’s leading bank for AI research, JP Morgan.

Ironically Evident found that while the UK is a hub of AI research talent, most of this is being harnessed by banks from other regions, primarily the US.

Evident AI Report Chart

When it comes to filing patents, the results are similarly poor. 

While European banks on the whole tend to file fewer patents than their American counterparts due to differences in patent regimes, the proportion of AI-related patents among those which are filed remains woefully low.

Barclays, for instance, has only one AI patent filed in the UK, while HSBC, the research leader, has none. Both banks, meanwhile, have more patents filed by their offices in other markets.

“The UK banks rarely feature amongst the leading banks in any areas,” wrote Evident in its findings, with the only exception being Barclays when it was ranked 10th for its number of investments in AI companies.

The report found European banks as a whole continue to lag behind, despite having a wealth of banking institutions.

“It is possible that a Spanish bank like BBVA could emerge as a European champion, a space that awaits a serious claimant,” Evident CEO and co-founder Alexandra Mousavizadeh wrote.

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