UK’s NatWest bank is testing a new voice banking service that runs on a Google Home platform. The bank’s clients will be able to receive information about their account balances or recent transactions using voice commands.
According to NatWest, about 500 clients will participate in a three-month pilot program. The test program will allow customers to retrieve information and access bank services through verbal communication. The bank’s responses to voice commands will be spoken and will also appear on the customer’s smartphone screen.
Kristen Bennie, head of NatWest’s “Open Experience,” said in an August 11 statement that the bank is testing voice banking for the first time. Bennie believes voice control will one day have a huge impact, much as mobile banking has changed the way consumers manage their finances.
Bennie said technology would not only make it easier for people to use banking services, but would also bring special benefits to those with disabilities, since voice banking eliminates the need for a keyboard or screen.
The system will enter a ready-for-use state after the client enters an online-banking PIN and password. Users will need to provide a “partial voice PIN” that will activate verbal messaging as well.
This is another example in a series of innovations that are intended to change the way transactions are conducted in the banking sector. For example, another UK bank – First Direct – has introduced a similar service that allows its customers to make payments with voice commands. It is based on Apple’s virtual assistant, Siri.
To ensure maximum transaction security, users of First Direct’s voice banking app must authenticate themselves using biometrics – Apple’s Face ID or Touch ID. Also, both the payer and the recipient must use Paym, the mobile payment platform.
New technologies are rapidly changing the banking sector worldwide. In the UK alone, nearly half of customers used mobile banking in 2018, according to a recent UK Finance report.
The UK Payment Market Report found that 2 billion payments were made in 2018 using mobile banking or e-banking – 4 million more than in 2017.