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Siri and Alexa: driving change in corporate banking

Just as people have quickly adjusted to using digital assistants such as Alexa, Siri or Cortana to check the weather, book a cab or reserve cinema tickets, it’s a logical next step for banks to launch voice activated services. Many are already experimenting with this approach. Capital One enables its customers to check their balance, track spending and pay bills using Alexa. Similarly, challenger bank Monzo offers smart interactions with Alexa and other voice-activated assistants.

But such innovation shouldn’t be limited to just the retail side of financial services. It is an oversight for banks to miss out on opportunities to deliver added value to customers across other business lines including corporate banking, treasury and capital markets.  

Despite there being fewer prevalent developments in these areas, there are a multitude of ways smart, voice-activated assistants could help improve a corporate customer’s banking experience.

“Alexa, share my stock report…”

Just this year, JP Morgan struck up a partnership with Amazon to develop a new skill for Alexa that will allow investment banks’ institutional clients to access the firm’s analyst reports and stock information via the voice assistant. 

This move represents an initial step into using a voice-activated assistant, but potential future developments could see customers gaining the ability to execute orders or complete trades via the use of voice commands, massively improving their productivity.

In my view it’s essential banks open-up all areas of banking; from retail banking to corporate banking, treasury and capital markets. The best way to do this and support innovation across all areas is through using a Platform-as-a-Service model. By collaborating with third-party developers and Fintechs, banks can deliver high-value developments and innovations to their customers.

Teaming up to innovate

Forward-thinking banks should already be looking at how they can evolve their corporate banking and treasury operations to make life more convenient for their corporate customers. By using a platform-based approach, banks can easily add new functionality on top of their existing systems., a ‘Conversation-as-a-Service’ firm, has already brought this to life by building a voice-activated treasury app prototype for corporate banking using a platform-based approach. The application allows treasurers to make balance approvals, query payment amounts and beneficiaries, check loan amounts and financing and provide payment approvals – all through voice-activated commands. It also includes security and authentication processes to support these activities.

Ready for adoption?

As with every new technology, banks must first assess the potential risks and associated benefits they may encounter before adoption. By deploying a low-risk and low-cost solution in the first instance, banks should gather usage data to help them make informed, data-driven decisions as they explore more advanced voice capabilities for their customers. 

This data will also be vital for banks as they decide where voice-enabled solutions will deliver most value to their corporate customers. By testing the waters in areas such as support and general enquiries, banks can then decide whether their customers will see value in more complex services like balance approvals and payment queries.

In this respect, the bank CMO will pay an important role in driving adoption of voice-enabled services for customers – demonstrating the benefits to the board of improved customer experience, and potential ROI. The CMO will also need to work closely with the CTO and CDO as they implement the technology and recognize data trends to continually improve the service for their customers.

While the implementation of voice-enabled services won’t deliver value to banks and their corporate customers overnight, they shouldn’t hesitate to start experimenting with the technology. With voice already being used for 20% of all Google searches, and voice-recognition technology continuing to improve in accuracy, banks risk falling behind if they fail to explore the benefits of this innovative channel.


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