The State of Voice in the Finance Industry

A deep-dive report

Steff Preyer

Business Director

Last Updated : 04/10/19

Page contents

 

Introduction to voice in the finance industry

By 2021, smart speaker sales are expected to overtake tablet sales, with 55% of householdsowning one by the following year. The rise in usage of voice assistants, such as Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant, could completely change the way consumers search for and engage with financial information. In many cases, voice provides a much faster way to complete tasks than by typing and, within the finance and banking industry, there is increasing focus on using voice assistants to improve customer servicing and account management, from companies such as Capital One, PayPal, Experian and others.


 Key challenges for the finance industry:

  • Low satisfaction rate with long call wait times and laborious identity screening process
  • High load on call centres for simple queries & actions
  • Increasing demand for advice-driven banking, rather than a purely transactional relationship
  • Decreasing customer loyalty with increasing competition

How to optimise your website for voice

The first step in your voice optimisation strategy should be checking how your website performs for informational queries, e.g. “best savings accounts”, “what is a good credit score”, etc.

 


 

Voice Search Performance

The Google Assistant has recently become far better at answering queries about finance, with its ability to answer improving from 65% to 82% between Q1 and Q2 2019.

This is mainly due to the Google Assistant returning more answers from standard Answer Box results.

 


 

Actions & Skills

Actions (on the Google Assistant) and skills (on Alexa) are voice-enabled apps which extend the built-in functionality of these voice assistants. While optimising your website for voice can provide a one-way snippet of information, actions and skills can allow brands to create two-way conversations with their consumers and can help them to perform tasks and activities.

Use case ideas

Use case idea 1: Customer support

Building customer confidence by providing non-sensitive information or notifications through voice search is a simple step in the right direction. A skill/action could be used to answer common customer queries and route them through to the call centre for more complex questions, to save people having to wait in line for simple requests.

Use case idea 2: Account information

Access simple account information via your voice – balance, transaction history, payments due, pay bills, check direct debits, check interest rates, card cancellation. Account linking and authentication required.

Use case idea 3: Spending analysis & financial advice

Track and analyse your spending to see where your money is going; set financial savings goals and get personalised advice to help you achieve these goals.

Amazon / Google 1st party

None


 

Existing Alexa Skills & Google Actions

A number of brands have already created voice apps in the space.

Some actions and skills have been created by banks, to allow you to service your account in some way, ranging from simple balance enquiries to transferring money and making loan payments. The scope of the use case tends to depend on policy restrictions in the supported country for that voice app.

Some voice apps have been created by other financial companies, while others still have chosen to create their own custom assistants or go in the direction of chatbots.

Overall more brands have released on the Alexa platform over the Google Assistant.  No brands have launched on both platforms with the same execution.

Banks:

Capital One (US):


Check your credit card, savings and loans account balances & assess spending by category

Numerica Credit Union (US):


Check balances, transfer money & make loan payments

PayPal (US)


Send or request money & check your balance

American Express (US)


Make payments, get Amex offers, check your balance & membership

Halifax Jargon Buster


Explains confusing terms around home buying

Other:

NatWest launched a closed trial with 500 customers in August 2009 of a Google Action which allows customers to use some the Google Assistant to access account information.

Georgina Bulkeley is NatWest’s director of strategy and innovation commented about the experiment.

‘What we learned was people were happy to check their balances and move money between accounts’, Bulkeley says, ‘but they’re probably not ready to set up a mortgage or pension that way.’  The best response to the trial came from those who were either physically disabled or visually impaired. ‘They said, “this is incredible”. It’s a cohort I think of a lot’.

TD Ameritrade (US)


The first company to launch an Alexa Skill where you can place trades with your voice. Stay updated on markets and get updates on your balances & positions, plus a daily flash briefing

Experian (US)


Check your credit score, find out how much debt you have & listen to alerts

Coinbase (all English territories)


Check real-time Bitcoin and Ethereum prices

Aviva Pension (UK)


Check your pension value and regular contributions, using a voice pin

JP Morgan (all English territories


find out the target price or tear sheet of a company, plus analyst biography data and get latest research reports sent to you

Custom voice assistants:

Bank of America

BofA app users have access to Erica, a voice-activated virtual financial assistant who already has 500,000 active monthly users

Capital One

A year after launching their Alexa Skill in 2016, Capital One launched Eno, its own assistant bot which is accessible by voice and text on the company’s website and app

 

 

Policy Restrictions

Voice and Speech Recognition services are regulated differentlyin different geographical regions. For example, in the US and China, banks are allowed to offer transaction services through voice-based services. In Europe services like Alexa and Siri are not currently allowed to enable financial transactions due to banking security standards established by supervisory bodies.

Alexa:

  • Your skill will be suspended or rejected if it:
    • Fails to provide disclaimer around timeliness of stock quotes, if stock quotes are presented
    • Accesses or provides access to personal financial information, and either fails to meet financial skill guidelines or is intended for distribution outside of the US.

Google:

  • They don’t allow Actions that provide services or store sensitive financial data in violation of applicable legal obligations. Google is not able to commit that the Actions on Google platform can meet all requirements set by financial regulations.
  • Financial data or authentication data cannot be collected via the conversational interface. This includes, for example, bank account or credit card numbers, or PIN/passwords. PIN/passwords that are unique to the Actions on Google platform are allowed.
  • Peer to peer transfers are not permitted, unless using App Actions. Actions that provide bank account information, such as credit balances, must implement account linking.
  • Actions providing general financial information, including interest rates and stock prices, are permitted.

 


 

Main Takeaways

  • At a website level, financial services companies need to focus on filling content gaps by gaining Answer Box results.
  • When it comes to creating two-way conversations through actions & skills, what you can create depends on the regulations in your region.
    • In countries that don’t allow transactions via voice, companies should focus on building actions and skills which answer common customer queries, allow users to check their balance and spending patterns, and then take the conversation onto a different platform to make transactions
    • In countries that do allow transactions, actions & skills could allow users to complete the above tasks as well as making payments, setting up direct debits, etc.
    • The potential to provide personalised financial advice using machine learning is huge, but a higher level of trust in the technology underpinning these conversations might be required first

 


 

Want to learn more? Get in contact with the Rabbit & Pork team about voice strategy, workshops or building a voice app

 

Get in contact

Steff Preyer

Business Director

Previously an Account Director at ROAST, Steff joined Rabbit & Pork to help brands understand the potential for Voice Search and defines use cases to drive maximum impact for awareness, retention and revenue.
Rabbit & Pork

+44 (0)20 8102 8500

[email protected]

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