Monday, August 12, 2019 / 03:05PM / By NatWest / Header Image Credit: gizmodo.co.uk
NatWest customers will be able to bank from home using just their voice with the launch of a pilot using innovative voice technology enabling customers to do banking through the Google Assistant on their Google Home smart speaker or smartphone. The pilot of 500 customers will run for three months.
Customers will be able to ask for commonly requested details such as their current balance and recent transactions and will be given a verbal response. On smartphones, the information will also appear on screen. Where customers are unable to get an answer or need to speak to someone, a message will be sent to their phone with contact details of NatWest’s customer helpline.
The initial pilot lets customers ask eight questions as well as access over 15 banking tips, with the potential for more to be developed if the trial is successful.
For security reasons, customers will setup their voice banking with their existing online banking password and PIN. When accessing it, customers will then be asked to provide a partial voice PIN to confirm their identity.
Some predict that voice banking could follow the same path as mobile banking – moving from a niche way for people to manage their finances into a mainstream method to bank. Currently, 9.6 million people own a smart speaker in the UK a figure set to rise to 12.6 million this year, whilst 55 million own a smartphone.
One of the key benefits of voice banking is that it allows customers to multitask enabling them to do their banking whilst completing other tasks. The more human interface could encourage customers who don’t use online or mobile to bank in a whole new way.
There are also advantages for blind customers making it easier to complete tasks without the use of a screen or keyboard.
Kristen Bennie, Head of Open Experience NatWest, said: “We are exploring voice banking for the first time and think it could mark the beginning of a major change to how customers manage their finances in the same way mobile banking made a huge impact. This technology will make it easier for people to bank with us and could bring particular benefits to those who have a disability as voice banking eliminates the need for customers to use a screen or keyboard. This is one of a number of services that the bank is aiming to develop this year that uses cutting edge, innovative technology to better serve our customers.”
Georgina Bulkeley, Director of Strategy and Innovation NatWest, said: “We’re committed to creating effortless customer experiences – and the adoption of new technologies by our customers provides fantastic opportunities for us to do that. We were the first bank in the UK to launch Touch ID for mobile, we delivered the UK’s first paperless mortgage and we’re leading the way on artificial intelligence with our digital assistant Cora. This new voice service is the next step towards making banking even easier, opening up exciting opportunities to create truly effortless and seamless banking experiences.”