Applying voice recognition capabilities to banking, Lloyds Bank has been exploring the capabilities of the Amazon Echo in relation to its online banking service. The Echo—currently only available in the US—is a hands-free and voice-controlled device designed to fit seamlessly into the home. The Echo was selected for the exploration by Lloyds because it is ‘always connected, ready, and fast’ with capabilities delivered through Alexa, the cloud-based voice service supporting the device. This means that the developers at Lloyds have been faced with a greater breadth of challenges and opportunities to explore how the device would be able to interface with the requirements for online banking.
Lloyds looked at how customers could potentially use voice recognition to securely log in to their online banking and ask simple questions to get real time information about their finances. The bank also considered how, once logged in, customers could check account and transaction information with just their voice.
Convenience is just one of the potential benefits that voice recognition could offer. More significantly, while voice recognition has the potential to help a broad range of people, it is those who have sight or mobility issues that could realise the most positive impacts. There are around 360,000 people registered as blind or partially sighted in the UK and using speech to interact with the organisations they do business with – including their banks – could have a significant impact.
Director of Innovation and Digital Development, Marc Lien said: “Through a broad range of biometrics, including voice recognition, we are exploring potential new and convenient ways that our customers may want to bank with us in the future. Some of our customers cannot enjoy the full benefits of online banking and understanding how we can break down accessibility barriers is another way in which we are working towards becoming the best bank for customers. Whilst we’re not opening up any voice recognition features to customers currently, it is an area that we continue to explore and will look to identify specific use cases for in the future.”
Last year Halifax trials explored how wearable technology could be used to enhance customer security, streamline the digital banking experience, and enable customers to access, and benefit from, the products and services they need to make the most of their money.
Halifax undertook a ‘proof of concept’ on how the Nymi Band could be used to reduce the need for customers to remember multiple passwords on a daily basis whilst ensuring it addresses the security issues of today. The band authenticates the wearer using electrocardiogram (ECG) when it’s first placed on the wrist. Another set of sensors then continuously detect that the authenticated person is still wearing the band.
Unlike fingerprints or iris scans, ECG is a biometric that is a vital signal of the body, and as such, naturally provides strong protection against intrusions and falsification. The Nymi Band further ensures user privacy by employing robust techniques which guarantee that only the devices the Nymi Band has been paired with can detect its presence.