By Michael Boukadakis, CEO of ENACOMM
The future of banking is about engaging with consumers in the digital ways they expect. Voice-activated banking will be a big part of that, as consumers use voice assistants at home, at work, in cars and on mobile devices. But don’t focus too narrowly on one or two use-cases, because conversational engagement has far-reaching potential.
Conversational banking has arrived, going by names such as Erica, Alexa, and Luvo. Whether the technology will be implemented is no longer the question. To what extent consumers will use it is what’s been up for debate.
Until now, the discussion has mostly focused on whether people have an interest in checking their credit card and checking account balances using the Amazon Alexa or Google Home. But the problem is … the discussion is too narrowly focused. It doesn’t take into consideration where the future is leading the banking industry.
Voice-to-voice interactions with a chatbot are still novel, and they’re certainly useful, but they’re only the beginning. AI innovators are far more visionary. They’re working day in and day out to ensure that the future of the technology is expansive. They intend for it to be in flow with a consumer’s everyday life.
Conversational banking will become one component of overall conversational engagement that will be ingrained in our daily routines. Voice banking is not about Alexa or Google Home; it’s about everything from cars to watches, televisions, hotel rooms and homes.
Voice-controlled cloud-computing software will soon be built into nearly every new gadget, vehicle and building, underscored by Amazon’s recent rapid-fire rollout of more than a dozen new Alexa-powered products. Earlier this year, the nation’s largest home builder Lennar also announced that all of its new homes will include “built-in Wi-Fi, smart locks, doorbells, thermostats and lights — all controlled by Alexa, Amazon’s voice-activated digital assistant.”
The Amazons, Googles and Apples of the world are now laying the foundation for our everyday reality to be shaped by continual voice interactions with vast new technologies. Each wants to be the operating system for your life … and banking will play an important component of this future.
Today, data on our identities, preferences and behaviors is often confined to our chosen digital assistant device. And we can’t pick a name for our trusty aide, because its activation phrase can’t be changed beyond a couple options.
A far more compelling future is one in which you’ll be able to name and interact with personalized intelligent assistant services under the name that you choose — whether that’s “Jeeves” or “Sally”— regardless of where you are, thanks to multi-modal authentication and cloud access to your data. The conversational voice engagement of tomorrow will be software-based, rather than device-dependent.
In a decade, the dots in our world will be connected by virtual assistants; banking and payments will naturally need to play a part.
Two-way voice interactions are a stepping stone toward multi-modal interactions. Soon, voice banking will not be limited to asking for something and being given a verbal response by a single device.
Imagine directing your personal virtual assistant to do something for you, such as create a report that will be emailed to you within seconds. And your own cyber sidekick will be able to take actions in the context of your overall conversational engagement, mindful of your past behavior and where you physically are. Think of the immersive intelligent assistant experience in Star Trek … the computer presents information via voice or on-screen based on the “context of you” — location, content type, and historical preferences.
How does all of this happen? Multi-device triangulation … and equally as important, multi-modal authentication. Authentication will not be limited by the need for a user to speak, which will improve the consumer experience. A consumer’s behavior, location, devices and other biometrics will all be considered by the intelligent, AI-based platform.
Imagine wearing a watch that allows your virtual personal assistant to recognize your unique biometric pulse. Multi-modal authentication will not only enhance security, but it will be seamless across devices, ensuring convenience for the end user. We need to help consumers understand that the device is not the security issue; the cloud computing platform is what technologists are working tirelessly to fortify.
In the future, conversational voice banking will include far more than interacting with your financial accounts on a one-to-one basis. Having your banking and payment info accessible to your personal virtual assistant will make it possible for you to easily pay, subscribe, buy, reserve, and more — to complete almost any transaction that requires your debit or credit card info.
Want to make a reservation at that fancy restaurant that requires a deposit? Tell Jeeves to handle it. He can do so without your help, thanks to your card info being linked to your secure profile.
The new major battleground for the Silicon Valley giants will focus on capturing your loyalty to their suite of conversational engagement technologies and services. These companies will be competing for your business across the board. Who wins the battle hinges on which set of products delivers the most convenience.
So, yes: Voice-to-voice is cool, but don’t view conversational banking in a vacuum. Banks, credit unions and card companies adopting the technology today aren’t simply wowing customers … they’re preparing for voice banking’s place in the future. Get ready – money making the world go ’round is about to go virtual.