Bank customers will now be able to access their personal finances, transaction details and rewards history through Alexa – Amazon’s voice controlled virtual assistant.
What is Alexa?
According to Tomsguide, “Alexa is a virtual personal assistant designed to compete with the likes of Apple’s Siri, Google Now, and others. Alexa, which was designed by Amazon’s secretive Lab126, can listen to your voice commands and respond with contextual responses to help you get the job done.
Alexa was popularized by the Amazon Echo, a device that acts both as a speaker and a smart-home hub, but also works on many other devices.”
Customers who have linked Alexa to their accounts will be able to ask it a range of questions, from “Alexa, ask Westpac how much money I have in my savings account” to “Did I get paid this week?”.
George Frazis, Chief Executive, Westpac Consumer Bank said of the news: “we know our customers want a seamless banking experience that fits with their needs and complements their lifestyles.
“As more people adopt innovative voice-activated technologies in an increasingly mobile world, we are excited to be one of the leaders in this space providing secure, easy to use, cutting edge banking services for our customers,” said Mr Frazis.
NAB Executive General Manager Digital & Innovation Jonathan Davey said Alexa would “bring another dimension to banking for customers through the secure digital connection to their internet banking.”
“Being able to provide customers with more personalised banking information is the latest development in hands-free, voice enabled experiences.
“Our skill for Amazon Alexa devices provides a secure connection between the device and a customer’s internet banking account, allowing them the convenience to manage their money,” said Mr Davey.
Should I connect this service to my bank account?
There are some obvious questions that you may want to ask when it comes to connecting your bank account to any device, none more significant than “is this secure?”
According to Amazon, they take customer safety and security seriously. “We have taken measures to make Echo secure,” Amazon said in an emailed statement to NBC News. “These include disallowing third party application installation on the device, rigorous security reviews, secure software development requirements and encryption of communication between Echo, the Alexa App and Amazon servers.”
However, you may want to consider who will be in the same room as your Alexa before you connect your bank account. Alexa is always listening and accidentally triggering its commands is common. If you don’t want your children or other housemates knowing the answers, this may be something you need to weigh up before connecting.
Also, if you needn’t worry about your teenager transferring themselves money right from your bank account. The “hands-free banking” feature does not currently allow you to pay bills or transfer funds via voice.
According to Mr Davey, “in the future, we certainly see this experience turning into one where you can pay bills, make funds transfers or even purchase items at the command of your voice.”