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The Evolution of Voice Banking in 2019

With Siri one button away from telling us everything Google has to offer, and Alexa making smart homes more accessible than ever, it’s transparent how artificial intelligence and voice technology in particular have helped transform our personal lives. It only seems right that the next big step is voice-controlled banking. 

Wouldn’t it be nifty to be able to handle payments of all your bills through voice-controlled integrations? Or even better, remove the 30-minute waits when you are trying to deal with customer support?

There are companies constantly developing new technologies to help improve the customer experience in the financial industry. Voice-controlled banking is among those, and it’s expected to take the banking industry by storm.

Through this article, we will be evaluating exactly what impact voice banking will have on personal and corporate banking in 2019, and look at some companies who have already taken the steps to implement voice and artificial intelligence in their own banking services. 


AI and Voice Banking in A Nutshell 

We all know the pains in the financial sector from a customer’s point of view. Communication involves long wait times and a frustrating calling process. Banking fees are known to be extravagant, and service can be a pain at times. 

However, tech companies and banks alike are working diligently to implement AI and interactive voice banking technologies to change both the experience and efficiency of banking. 

According to Matt-Phillips, Vice President and Head of Financial Services at Diebold Nixdorf, there are three main pillars of improvement that can be expected from AI and interactive voice banking: 

  • Improving both back-office and customer-facing processes behind the scenes
  • Improving overall customer experience
  • Improving security of customers while they work with their banking providers 


How AI and Voice Banking Interact With Each Other

Artificial intelligence assistants, such as Siri, are just one example of how voice-interactive technology can make life easier. But how would these two emerging technologies work together to improve customer experience and business outcomes in the financial services industry? 

We are not yet ready for holographic assistants and lightspeed service. However, there are quite a number of big-brand banks that have implemented their own voice-empowered technologies to improve their customer experience. 


Bank of America’s Virtual Assistant - Erica

Undoubtedly the biggest bank in America released their very own AI-empowered digital helper in May 2019. Allegedly, this virtual assistant has already earned over six million users in the six months since its release, while the bank’s daily client engagement doubled.


What makes Erica great? 

Customers can interact with Erica through voice, text or gesture commands, which makes it more convenient to interact with the application when you are busy with other projects. 

The gesture command prediction technology also creates a more seamless experience for consumers with impairments. 

Aditya Bhasin, Head of Consumer and Wealth Management Technology at Bank of America, commented that over time Erica’s learning curve will make it possible for users to not only transfer money to a friend or list their transactions at a specific merchant, but also make better financial decisions by analyzing their habits and providing guidance.

Considering we have only just stumbled into the potential brought about by customer service bots, it’s exhilarating to see how much virtual assistants similar to Erica can already help consumers. Some of their core functions include: 


  • Helping with financial queries such as transactions on the account 
  • Handling bill payments 
  • Locking or unlocking debit/credit cards
  • Learning each user’s preferences and incorporating them into service through machine learning


Voice AI and Fraud Prevention  

With the idea of being able to voice a thought and having your banking assistant take care of all your worries, there is always the downside of security. What happens if someone clips together a voice command and make illicit use of it? In their Financial Cost of Fraud 2019 study, estimated that the global cost of economic fraud is worth over $4 trillion at the moment. This is now a relevant concern, and something that banks are working on improving. 

As of right now, artificial intelligence alone is significantly helping financial institutions protect their consumers and reduce the risk of fraudulent behaviour. 

There are a number of tech startups working to combat financial crime. It’s expected that banking institutions will work closely with startups such as Pelican to help improve the security behind their artificial intelligent helpers. This is where artificial intelligence security and voice banking innovations go hand in hand. 


Final Thoughts

Voice banking is going big, not in the least because of the ripples caused by AI research worldwide. Operating in a primary customer-centric industry, banking and financial services companies couldn’t miss the opportunity to apply this innovation to their front-line services.

What we see now are pioneering attempts at making voice augmentation both effective and secure. For now, these attempts may be reserved only for the institutions with the biggest pool of resources; however, with more agile startups and open-source projects coming up in this niche, we can expect the technology to get significantly democratized.      



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