Voice Tech & Banking – What next?

What technologies are on your business radar right now? When I put this question to colleagues working in different industries, the answers usually tend to be AI or AR. We tend to agree but what about voice? It’s not new, where’s it going now? Today we’re exploring the role of voice technology in banking.

While emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence, or VR have the potential to (literally) change the world around us, they’re not yet part of our daily lives. Voice, on the other hand, once somewhat lagging behind these seemingly more complex, sophisticated technologies, has been busy enjoying a growth-spurt:

According to Google, 20% of all searches are voice.

  • 31% of smartphone users worldwide use voice tech at least once a week.
  • 50% of all online searches will be voice-based by 2020.
  • 30% of all web browsing sessions will be done without a screen by 2020.
  • 55% of households are expected to own smart speaker devices by 2022.
  • Global voice commerce is expected to be worth $40B by 2022.

Can voice deliver in banking?

More accessible, and more visible than ever – in large part due to the computers in our pockets – finance has emerged from the dusty old corridors of the banking institutions of yore, and into the light – and everyone wants a piece of the pie. Want to manage your pension while you’re waiting for your train? You can. Want to invest that spare £100 you’ve got this month? No problem! Or maybe you fancy yourself as a weekend trader? Go ahead!

This new financial space in which we’re managing our money from our phones, means that today over 80% of banking customers are using mobile banking apps at least nine days out of every month. And now that most of us are on-board, we’re all crying out for an even quicker, more convenient, more insightful interaction with our financial service providers. Can voice deliver? What can we expect to see more of in the near future?

Who are the voice movers and shakers in banking?

Just this month, NatWest introduced a 3 month trial of a Voice-driven service aimed at customers who want to check their bank balance and transactions. Talking to Google smart speakers, trial customers will be able to ask eight questions, and access a range of banking tips. As well as receiving Voice responses to these questions, users will also be able to see the required information on their smartphone screen. Answers to questions will also appear on their smartphone screen.

HSBC launched VoiceID back in 2016, preventing fraud losses of over £300m. Used by over 1.6million UK customers, their voice biometrics system can identify the individual characteristics of a banking customer’s voice to provide access to telephone banking services. When a customer says their account details, they include the phrase: “My voice is my password,” – and on verification from the system, they’re granted access to their account.

Payment technology:

  • Conversational AI platform KAI (from Kasisto) is used by Mastercard, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan, to name just a few
  • The Personetics ‘Cognitive Banking Brain’ currently serves over 50 million bank customers across Europe, Asia and the USA
  • Barclays, Santander and the Royal Bank of Canada introduced voice recognition payments in 2017

Voice technology in banking – what’s happening now

Research by Sapio for Red Box recently reported that over 80% of CIOs and IT professionals across the financial services believe that a“Voice First” strategy will be part of their wider business strategy within five years. That’s pretty impressive, considering we weren’t paying attention to Voice five years ago. So what gives?

We’ve already shared thoughts about technology in financial services, and we’re in no doubt that what’s powering successful digital transformation initiatives is when banks and other financial institutions make inroads to engage with their customers in the myriad ways they’ve come to expect. This is the key to business success across all industries in the future, not just finance.

Why? As technology evolves at breakneck speed, our requirements evolve just as quickly alongside them. We all now expect to be able to bank on the move, to pay our bills when we want to, and to invest our hard-earned cash where and whenever we’re compelled to. We want the ability to pick up our phone and access whatever service we need, whenever we need it – and we want to be able to do it quickly, and with the least hassle possible. Oh – and preferably yesterday, thanks very much.

So where are the banks and finance houses going to capitalise on Voice, supporting customers, and driving efficiencies at their own side? It’s all about data and artificial intelligence …

Customer service

There are opportunities abound for the savvy finance enterprise to gain real competitive advantage by taking voice data, marrying it with machine learning, and delivering compelling insights that will help enterprise serve its customers in an enhanced, hyper-personalised way. Frequently asked questions, for example, tend to have well defined inputs and outputs that can more often than not be addressed with automated, customised responses. When married with machine learning, voice data in banking becomes super-enhanced, enabling both customers and customer-facing staff to get exactly the right content at exactly the right time, allowing ever more complex queries and transactions to be properly – and rapidly – dealt with. The result? Lower costs and more satisfying solutions across a whole range of customer interactions.

Customer experience

The above really leads into the new customer experience. This is where the utilisation of Voice data in banking can deliver big, specifically when married with AI. And the bigger the data set, the more accurate and satisfying the resulting support will be. By applying machine or deep learning techniques to the voice data set, personalised service (and product) recommendations can be made – and fine-tuned over time, continually refined by the real world data set derived from the voice input. Once we’re able to confidently converse with our financial service provider, and once that provider has built up a robust personal profile of our interactions, the benefits could be far-reaching. Perfect mortgages at the perfect time for selling up and moving on (and making money on your sale too). Or what about AI being able to predict stock market lows and highs – and alerting the individual investor it might be time to sell (or buy!) … and that’s just two examples off the top of my head. Yep. The days of hanging on the telephone for 20 minutes to check a transaction – indeed, waiting 20 minutes to do anything – will be a ‘best forgotten’ experience of the past. The result? Lots of happy customers, lots of happy employees, and a healthy ROI driven by these new streamlined efficiencies.

Operational enhancements

So wherever human input with the financial provider can be transformed into a standardised data structure, it goes without saying that it’s ripe for process automation and AI-based recommendations driven by Voice. Taking a deep dive into the potential for operational enhancements, it’s been reported that over $3bn in annual cost rationalisation opportunities exist in the US alone by redirecting simple customer requests (requests that currently take over 50% of call centre time). That’s some saving – and a rather healthy-looking purse with which to improve operations enterprise-wide, particularly the downstream operational processes. Think redefined front and back office operations that could result in reduced time and costs across these customer interactions. These cost reductions could translate to additional, better products and services for customers – and greater shareholder value.

Conclusion

We’re now at that stage where Voice technology understands conversational linguistics, dialects, slang, idiosyncrasies, and foreign accents – to name just a few. What’s more, the technology can even recognise intent. If all that has your thoughts turning to how this can help you do better business, you’d be on the right track. Voice will certainly play a part to enable finance providers to automatically identify, understand and better serve their customers, greatly improve their brand experience -all the while reducing costs at the operational side, and driving a digital transformation worth shouting about. Technology has shaped the future of finance. Now it’s time to shape an exciting future for finance customers! Interested in learning how voice technology can be leveraged to turbocharge your own fintech product? Let’s get started.


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