by Susan Stover
Sophisticated advancements in digital voice assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa are rapidly changing the way we interact in our world, and are fundamentally changing the way we relate to money, making it easier than ever to manage funds, send money, and track spending. The future of banking is changing quickly as AI helps to provide a full banking experience.
Location, Location, Location
Banking has come long way since the days of having to travel to a physical building to make any transactions. In the 1990s there was a shift away from the brick and mortar institutions, to internet accessed home banking. The introduction of online banking has allowed for banks to cut operating costs, allow for more convenient of banking, and introduced more competition in the market. For those familiar with online banking, it requires a login with the financial institution and after the initial sign up, it requires a login and password to access. Your funds can be accessed from almost anywhere, and is available on your mobile device.
Online banking has since become widely popular with a recent 2015 study concluded that nearly half (46 percent) of Canadians prefer online banking. Most define their banking experiences online as transactional (paying bills, transferring funds). Although the convenience isn’t always on demand, as some TD customers might be aware of with recent e-transfer disruptions.
In recent years banks have eliminated much of the friction through the mobile channel, with financial institutions like USAA, HSBC, and Bank of America enabling customers to replace passwords with easy-to-use biometric authentication. But the future might be even more convenient.
Look Who’s Talking
Voice-powered searches are starting to dominate many tech interactions such as online searching and shopping, and banking is no exception. Skipping the passwords or logins, AI is allowing for voice recognition to be the key to your accounts. Using simple pattern matching, pattern and feature analysis, and language model with statistical analysis AI has been developed to know if it’s really you.
With the advent of online banking, it was just as easy as pressing a button… and then another button, and then typing your password, and then another button… But now it might just be as easy “Open Sesame”. As of iOS 11, Siri has banking support which means if your bank supports SiriKit integration, you’ll be able to transfer money from one account to another, check balances, find pending transactions, and pay bills. Once enabled, you can simply state your desired transaction. “Send $20 to Jane Doe from X bank”, or “Pay phone bill from X bank”.
Amazon’s Alexa is being most utilized by the credit card company Capital One. Currently, through Alexa you can make credit card payment and make unique requests about account balances, and request snapshots of how much you are spending. You can simply ask “How much did I spend on McDonalds this month?” or, “How much money did I spend on Amazon Prime?” and receive a detailed report. Capital One’s use of Alexa signals a significant shift in how AI can alter our relationship with how we spend and organize our money.
Through Amazon Echo, an Amazon Dot or a Fire TV Stick with Voice Control you can sign up for YNAB (You Need A Budget) currently priced at $4.17 a month, with which you can access your banking with voice command from any device. It also includes bank syncing so you can have all your money in one place, you can pair with a partner, manage debt paydown, track your goals for saving and future spending, provides aesthetically pleasing pie charts to chart your spending and goals, and the service provides personal online support and free online workshops.
Banking can now be much simpler as technology advances to introduce more voice command technology. With smart watches and car speakers connected to our banking, day-to-day banking can be done anywhere, anytime. Instead of having to log in through your computer or mobile device, digital voice assistants make the process seamless. Perhaps you’re in your car on the way to the store and you’re unsure about your spending limit? Without pulling out your phone or logging into a computer you could simply say the question aloud and know how much you’ve set out to spend.
But what about human connection? Money can be a sensitive topic, and many might feel that more complicated questions are best answered when face to face with a real person. Technology hears these concerns and AI like BankBot are introducing a robotic bank teller, financial advisor, and personal assistant all in one. These technologies feature a text based interface, but are also capable of voice conversation. Think this might be a cold interaction? Emirates NBD recently rolled out “Pepper” a humanoid robot capable recognizing behaviour. Through what they call an “emotional engine” it adapts its behaviour and mood based on with whom it interacts. The technology works to recognized the lexical field you use and non-verbal communication. Turn your head to the side because you’re confused about the advice you’ve received about a mortgage, Bankbot might be able to tell you need clarity and expand on the topic further.
With voice activated assistants the ease, comfort, and security of banking is advancing quickly. With these new AI technologies, it’s not just that you can say what you want from your banking, but feel like you’re actually being heard.
Susan Stover is a Toronto based writer covering a range of topics from feminism, television, popular culture, and technology. She is particularly interested in how technology works to change our relationship with the world around us. She also works as a digital marketing and social media consultant.