Take my word for it

Well, there’s one way to talk to your bank, writes So­phie Elsworth

The Northern Star - - LIFE -

RE­QUEST­ING a bank bal­ance from your smart­phone’s vir­tual as­sis­tant is the new­est way cus­tomers can check their fi­nan­cial sta­tus.

Us­ing voice bio­met­rics, fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tion ING has launched the lat­est tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance for smart­phone con­sumers, al­low­ing iOS Ap­ple de­vice users to con­verse with their bank in sec­onds.

It doesn’t even re­quire cus­tomers to en­ter a PIN or log into the banking app; all they have to do is ask Siri: “what’s my bank bal­ance?”

The new­est fea­ture from ING – which has more than 1.2 mil­lion cus­tomers na­tion­ally – is the first of many more voice-ac­ti­va­tion ser­vices set to be­come avail­able to cus­tomers.

All the hard work is done by a vir­tual as­sis­tant and it’s ex­pected to ex­tend to cus­tomers be­ing able to make bank trans­fers or bill pay­ments.

ING’s head of dig­i­tal in­no­va­tion Chris Bar­wick said the technology is a mile­stone as it brings con­sumers closer to mak­ing voice-ac­ti­vated trans­ac­tional banking a re­al­ity.

“All cus­tomers have to do is to ask what is their bal­ance or ‘how much do I have in my Or­ange Ev­ery­day (trans­ac­tion) ac­count?’,’’ he said.

“It will dis­play on the screen the bal­ances of the ac­counts that the cus­tomer has asked for.”

New re­search compiled by Nielsen on be­half of ING found about one in five cus­tomers are now us­ing voice as­sis­tants such as Siri at least once a day.

And a ma­jor­ity of ING cus­tomers (69 per cent) said they would be likely to use these types of voice-ac­ti­vated ser­vices to per­form their daily banking tasks as they be­come avail­able. Strate­gic re­la­tions firm RFi’s lead con­sul­tant Alex Boor­man said bio­met­rics was be­com­ing more pop­u­lar among fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions as cus­tomers de­mand these ad­vanced types of technology. “There’s a move to use var­i­ous different types of bio­met­rics in fi­nan­cial ser­vices from fin­ger­prints, to voice ac­ti­va­tion, to iris scans,’’ he said.

“We are see­ing more cus­tomers log­ging into apps us­ing fin­ger­prints and it’s about mak­ing it easy for cus­tomers to ac­cess their banking.”

Voice bio­met­rics is very ad­vanced and doesn’t just take in a per­son’s voice, it also takes in the way they speak, Mr Boor­man said.

Se­cu­rity-wise, cus­tomers first have to go into the bank’s lat­est app, have the new­est iOS ver­sion on their smart­phone and ap­prove the ac­counts they would like in­cluded on their bal­ance check be­fore they can use the voice ac­ti­va­tion ser­vice.

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