Banking and designing for Voice Recognition

We’re interested in the interaction between humans and technology. In this instance between voice and banking.

Why voice in banking matters

We’ve had our eye on Voice Recognition for some time and how this particular technology will affect the way consumers will manage their personal finances in the future.

Using our voice to control the things around us isn’t new. Aural interaction and feedback has been common for people with accessibility needs for years e.g. using voice feedback on cash machines. We’re also used to engaging with Virtual Assistants like Siri and Cortana. More recently we’ve invited these Virtual Assistants into our homes with the likes of Amazon Echo and Google Home. As we get more used to using our voice for basic commands like ‘what time is it?’ and ‘do I need an umbrella today?’, the next step is to use our voice to perform more complex tasks like banking.

The biggest challenge for financial services will be overcoming customer inertia and security concerns. Earlier this year Barclays, First Direct and HSBC deployed Voice Recognition into phone banking. In the US, Capital One customers can already carry out tasks like checking their account balance or making payments using Amazon Echo. Citibank is expected to follow suit in the near future.

Consumer behaviour and aural interfaces

Our research has uncovered some fundamental ways in which people approach and use aural interfaces.

Convenience is the most common reason for using voice over other modes of input

Consumers expect their episode of interaction to be concise and this has an impact on the types of questions they ask the answers they expect

In terms of aural interfaces and banking, we can add one point to the two above:

Security and privacy is paramount

We have observed how these behaviours influence people on using aural user interfaces for banking.

Consumers consider their social setting/context before using aural interfaces

They may not want others to hear the question they’re asking. A consumer might think:

And they certainly may not want others to hear the answer to the question they have just asked. A consumer might think:

Designing aural interfaces for banking

Such behaviours and expectations impact how we should approach designing interactions for this modality. We will briefly look at how the above behaviours might manifest themselves in a smart-home device such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home.

Consumers will most likely place these devices in areas where they spend most of their time, such as the kitchen or living room. Therefore, they need to be reassured that their sensitive banking information will be secure, and that no-one else can access it.

The types of questions users ask (and the responses they expect to get) will be influenced by context such as time and previous habits.

If a user asks about their bank account balance, they likely don’t want the balance of every account they have. 

Consumer question: “How much money is in my current account?”

Users could (and will) ask for the same information in a variety of different ways, and they may not use the correct terminology or product names.

For example, users might use a variety of the following questions to find out the same information, which is to see how much money they can spend:

Users will expect systems to be intelligent enough to offer useful information that they did not ask for, but would help them make good decisions.

If a regular transaction, such as a direct debit, will affect their ‘financial health’ and spending power is coming up, they want to be told. 

User question: “How much money is in my current account?”

As consumers become more comfortable using their voice to engage with their devices, voice banking is sure to come soon. The main things to keep in mind when designing for voice banking include:

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