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Amazon Echo’s implications for banking

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11 April 2016
Daniel W. Latimore

Today’s banking watchword is simplicity. As ludicrous as it may have sounded a couple of years ago, the difference between three taps and two has become significant, and is getting more important every day. But what if there were no taps?

I've always been a bit of a tech geek, but had resisted buying the Amazon Echo, mainly because of my wife's ridicule. Spurred by an encounter at a recent conference, however, I decided it was time to bite the bullet. And now, having played with the Echo for a couple of weeks, I can see that its implications for banking will be profound. No longer is there the necessity to even click when you want to interact with Echo. You simply say “Alexa” to wake it up, and then ask what you want. I'm currently able to access my music library, ask what the weather is, and make general knowledge queries (e.g., how far is it from Boston to Atlanta).

While it’s early days yet, and there is a lot that Alexa doesn't yet know how to do, it is inevitable that its functionality will continue to grow. Capital One is the first and currently only bank to integrate with Alexa, but I’m very curious to see who’s next and how fast this phenomenon will grow. Asking my balance is easy and seamless.

Being very honest, I initially pooh-poohed the utility of voice interaction, but now that I've gotten a taste of it, I (and likely many more) want the full meal. I already can ask Alexa my bank balance. Soon I’ll schedule my utility bill for $220 for next Thursday (since Capital One isn’t my main bank I haven’t fully explored its capabilities on Echo).

The Amazon Echo is a vision of the next step on the road to complete seamlessness and ambient responsiveness. While today Echo may not be that much more than a toy, its implications are profound. Sure I could click on Weather Underground, but asking Alexa the forecast takes virtually no effort and doesn’t require lifting my fingers from the keyboard. I can see the pathetic elements here, but still: I want the same thing with my financial life.

Who’s going to be next to jump on the Echo/Alexa bandwagon?

Comments

  • Dan, I am very interested in your experience with Capital One on Alexa. I had a chance to attend their presentation at SXSW--is that where you heard about it? Perhaps we were at the same session. I covered it in my podcast episode about SXSW. Here's the link: http://www.thekindlechronicles.com/2016/03/18/tkc-398-best-south-by-southwest-ever/ . I'd love to know what else you are using the Capital One skill for on Alexa. Great piece. Thanks.

  • I love my Echo and am hoping Wells Fargo will integrate for me. I use it already everyday from playing music, telling kid jokes, setting timers and alarms etc. I think it will be profound in many business arenas.

  • I don't know about Amazon's Echo per se, but voice-enabled interactively definitely is going somewhere. Even my mother has an Echo (before me, no less)...

     

  • Thanks, Len. I got Alexa simply to explore this new way of interacting with a machine, then went searching for what bank apps were live. Capital One as of the date of the blog the only I could find listed on the skill store. What's going to be really interesting is how the design of voice interaction with a bank plays out -- what's the user experience going to be, and how will security be handled? Lots of potential here, I think, particularly when we get to the point where the whole house is wired for voice.

    Since Capital One isn't my primary bank I didn't do much more than ask for my balance, incidentally.

  • Good to hear from you, Julian (no pun intended!). I agree: whether it's Echo, Siri, or Nuance, this voice stuff has potential. What does your mom use her Echo for?

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