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Voice payment could be the next major payment platform

Not everyone has a concierge or a personal assistant, but each one of us probably secretly wanted to have one, at least temporarily. The technology now almost lets you do this with your smartphone’s voice assistant and home hubs.

Imagine if you could glide through everyday chores like paying and shopping with such an ease while making your hair, watching TV with the use of your voice and a charming assistant guiding you and asking “What else can I do for you?” A few decades ago, this could have only be seen in movies.

This technology has been testing our readiness through the smartphone assistants.

Who are the assistants?

Apart from the smartphone assistants, attention is slowly moving to home hubs. It will be especially exciting when the underlying AI and machine learning starts delivering detailed, contextual, and highly personalized responses that will make users’ life easier. Financial services have been one of the biggest beneficiaries of such innovations around mobile tech and IoT.

Since its introduction to US consumers in mid-2015, Amazon’s Echo has become a promising hit and now smartphone brands and other tech companies are competing for their share of voice on the market. Already, Siri can help users make peer-to-peer (P2P) transfers with Venmo, Alexa can pay off Capital One credit card bills, and, since recently, Google Assistant can let users shop with their voice from nearby stores. Facebook is also slowly coming in with its own speech recognition feature under the name Aloha for both the Facebook and Messenger apps, as well as external hardware — likely the video chat smart speaker it’s developing. It is still not clear whether Aloha will have payment features.

Fun fact:

Daniel Rausch, Amazon Smart Home vice president, said Alexa’s history and development was inspired by Star Trek communicators.

History proved our acceptance of the new. In the pre-banking app days, most believed that they would always pay their bills in person, with cash. Now, our natural methods of interaction, voice and touch, are seeing a resurgence.

How does this work?

Since this technology is not available to everyone, this is a rough guide on using the voice for shopping.

Here’s a scenario:

You are at home and want to vacuum the house but you’re out of vacuum bags. So, you say to your smart speaker or smartphone “Order recyclable vacuum bags”. The virtual assistant hears that and finds the best option and will want you to confirm.

Different smart speakers or voice assistants will give you different products.

The price you hear mostly includes tax, which is in majority determined by the location of the store your items come from.

In addition, Amazon says that using their smart speakers you can also save some money by asking its assistant Alexa what deals there might be on certain products.

Security

Biometrics is one of the best ways to protect sensitive customer information because it takes into consideration distinct characteristics that are unique to each person – whether it’s a fingerprint, voice command or facial recognition.

Voice contains extremely rich biometric data because a person’s voice is a unique identifier. Voice biometrics is one of the best ways to prevent fraudulent activity. These voice-based systems are backed-up by a biometric authentication or a four-digit PIN code to be read out loud, as in the example of Alexa. The multi-point authentication may disrupt the seamlessness of this method, but it certainly provides a better security.

Future of voice payments

This is just the beginning. Today, 18 million US consumers have made a voice payment, and Business Insider Intelligence predicts that figure will quadruple over the next five years. In the future, experts estimate that half of all search will be done by voice by 2020. Estimates also suggest that there will be tens of millions of smart speakers in homes in the US alone by 2020. On the global level, number of people using virtual assistants is estimated to reach 1.83 billion by 2021.

Even though we all talk about “digital”, these innovative methods hold out the possibility of a far more immersive digital experience around a brand. In the future, customers might choose brands based not so much on the quality of their products, but on the quality of the experience they construct around the product.

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