Jaime González Gasque
The Rise of Voice Payment Technology in Banking
Your phone or car answering your questions doesn’t sound insane anymore. AI is entering our everyday lives. We can ask a computer to order a pair of Converse sneakers, book a hotel, or schedule a romantic dinner with our spouse. Shouldn’t we also be able to pay for stuff with our voices?
Industries from eCommerce to banking harness voice technologies with every new piece of software released. Voice-enabled virtual assistants gain more recognition each year, and the financial sector is among the top beneficiaries of this innovation.
As more customers use smartphones for banking services, voice payments become a natural substitute for tapping on the go.
The voice payments ecosystem
75% of iPhone owners have used Siri, and 63% of Android owners have communicated with a virtual assistant on their smartphone. Ease of use and time savings are the primary reasons why people use voice assistants. Eighteen million US consumers have already tried paying by voice, and many banks and financial institutions offer this service to their clients.
Personalization is the main driver of voice-enabled solutions. Voice interactions can provide valuable insights into customer needs and behaviors, allowing banks and FinTech companies to offer personalized services with a unique brand touch. Today, voice payments are limited to minor eCommerce transactions, but machine learning algorithms for voice technology are improving daily. Soon, customers will feel comfortable enough to make more expensive and complicated purchases by voice.
The majority of tech-savvy users have already accepted virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant. So the adoption of voice payments and voice banking is a natural evolutionary step for them. Several FinTech leaders are already helping banks and financial businesses gain a virtual voice. At the same time, industry disruptors are developing their own solutions to leverage voice payment technology. Here are some examples:
KAI, a conversational AI platform from Kasisto, is used by JP Morgan, Mastercard, Wells Fargo, and others.
Cognitive Banking Brain from Personetics serves over 50 million bank customers in the USA and across Europe and Asia.
In 2017, the Royal Bank of Canada, Barclays, and Santander introduced voice recognition payments via Siri.
Ally Bank has been interacting with its customers via Ally AssistSM since 2015, continually improving it to recognize speech better and provide accurate answers.
Security issues and lack of customer trust are among the top obstacles to the adoption of voice payments. Voice payments will succeed only when we develop and implement advanced authentication and protection methods. This is one of the primary trends for voice solutions in 2019 and beyond.
The potential for voice payments
Voice banking is conquering the financial industry, and FinTechs are competing to offer more advanced, robust, and secure solutions. Development of voice banking is predicted to move in several directions in the next couple of years:
Security is the primary concern with voice payments. Keeping information private while going through authentication procedures is a challenge for voice banking. But combining various biometric markers such as fingerprints, irises, and voice might be a solution.
The future of mobile biometrics
A 2021 study by Visa claims that more consumers are expressing confidence in using biometrics as a secure form of authentication: 84% in 2022 compared to 59% the year before. Nuance Communications, a provider of voice recognition technology, states that even professional imitators can’t fool their system. And neither can synthetic or recorded speech: once the system hears the difference, it will trigger an alarm. The next step is introducing the technology into customers’ everyday routines.
Integrating visual interfaces Voice will continue to merge with IoT devices to create a smooth user experience. At CES 2018, Google showcased dozens of devices powered by its Google Assistant, from speakers with touch displays to smartwatches. This allows users to start interacting with the virtual assistant by voice and continue their communication on-screen. By the way, the tech giant also introduced the voice-controlled Google Assistant in all cars that have Android Auto.
Contextual understanding and customized voice detection With the advancement of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and voice recognition techniques, conversations with virtual assistants will gradually become less “mechanical” and closer to natural human communication. Understanding the context of questions, recognizing accents, and differentiating between voices are the next stages of voice technology development.
Introducing the digital concierge experience As digital voice assistants become more sophisticated, they’ll go further than simply letting people make payments using voice technology. You’ll also be able to communicate with financial institutions, handling more complicated tasks like issuing invoices, paying taxes, getting loans, and renewing insurance. All these actions will be voice-enabled from your smartphone, smartwatch, connected car, and home system — anywhere and any time.
Final thoughts Voice payment technology is already transforming the way we search, shop, and travel. In time, it will reshape the entire way we interact with financial institutions. Virtual assistants and digital concierges will become our right hand in the everyday routine — at home, at work, in the car, and while traveling or shopping. All we have to do is develop voice payment technologies people trust.