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Cara is the interactive aid to First Direct loans

First Direct claims to be the first UK bank to launch an interactive online

mortgage adviser called Cara to answer questions on its products from IFAs

and consumers.

For a four-month trial period, Cara, a three dimensional interactive

animation who moves, talks and gestures as she responds to queries, will

give advice on the internet and phone bank&#39s Smartmortgage offset product.

If the pilot is successful, First Direct intends to make Cara available to

offer a full range of complex product information at www.firstdirect.com.

She is being tested on Smartmortgage as offset products can be seen as

complicated by some customers and a verbal response from the agent is more

useful than providing long bodies of texts.

The name Cara was chosen following research among customers who picked it

for such reasons as it is Greek for friend and helper as well as an acronym

for computer animated response agent.

Head of First Direct E-Futures division Jonathan Etheridge says: “Cara is a

first on a road which I ultimately see will bridge the gap between the

relatively impersonal world of the internet and the much richer experience

of a real person on the phone.”

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