Speaking Of Alexa As The Personal Billing Assistant

The memory of a purchase is often short-lived. The frenetic pace of daily life means it’s easy for people to forget about outstanding bills or purchases made days, weeks or months in the past.

For the 2018 PYMNTS.com Voice Challenge with Amazon Alexa, Alacriti developed Alexa skills to enable fast and seamless bill payments and customer service. The company’s Alexa skills are designed to match a biller’s business needs — say, a card issuer who’d like to provide recent purchase history, for example, or an insurer who is seeking to offer additional coverage options.

In addition, the company’s skill set encompasses payments scenarios such as rent payments and business insights, among other capabilities.

“When we first thought up Alexa skills, we designed a few user stories — how a user would interact with a voice-enabled device,” Alacriti’s Co-Founder and CEO Manish Gurukula told PYMNTS in an interview. “And we came up with the best use cases.”

Gurukula explained four scenarios in which Alacriti’s skills can be used and how Alexa can help consumers and professionals have a more seamless payment experience.


Use Case One: Bill Pay

Jean, for example, remembers that she needs to pay a guitar retailer while she’s strumming a guitar. So, as Jean plays her favorite tune, she asks Alexa to make a payment.

Alexa tells Jean her balance, but Jean has a dilemma: She doesn’t remember spending that much money at the store, so she asks Alexa: “Can you let me know what I bought?”

“Your last transaction was on Feb. 17 for a guitar case,” Alexa responds. “The total was $144. Do you remember that?”

Now that Jean knows what she purchased, Jean elects to make the minimum payment due to the guitar store — instead of paying off the entire balance.


Use Case Two: Rent Payments

After using Alexa to notify maintenance and schedule an appointment about a broken dishwasher (all while preparing dinner), Katie realizes that it’s getting toward the end of the month. Can Alexa do that, too?

“Sure, what date would you like the payment to be scheduled for?” Alexa asks.

“The 30th of this month,” Katie says.

After confirming the payment details, Alexa schedules Katie’s rent payment from her bank account, even before Katie is done with dinner preparations.


Use Case Three: Invoice Analysis

Stuart and Charles are swamped with requests for proposals and implementations, but they need to solve an invoicing issue. To save time, they ask Alexa to look into the matter.

After opening the company’s invoice software, Stuart and Charles ask Alexa for details on a customer’s payments. Alexa tells them their customer’s invoices are significantly decreasing in number and value.

“Would you like me to email this information to you as a chart?” Alexa asks.

“Yes, Alexa, please send me the chart,” Stuart says.

After Alexa completes these two requests, Stuart then asks for a chart breaking down the number of automated clearing house and credit card payments.

Stuart and Charles are able to generate an insight after examining the data and conversing with Alexa.

“It looks like they aren’t sending us all the invoices they used to,” Charles said. “You think they’re switching to another vendor?”

“Could be,” Stuart replies.


Use Case Four: Credit Card Payments

Ruhsora is at work when Alexa reminds her to pay her credit card bill. Following the prompt, she asks Alexa for her credit union account balance.

“Your balance is $1,024.96, and the minimum payment due is $25,” Alexa says. “What else may I help you with?”

After hearing her balance, Ruhsora asks Alexa to schedule a payment for $100 the following day using her bank account. Alexa confirms Ruhsora’s scheduled payment, and Ruhsora asks Alexa to sign her up for auto pay.


Adoption of Voice-Enabled Technology

Beyond its Alexa skills, Alacriti has a Facebook bot that supports bill payments. Gurukula said his customers are making use of that feature as well.

“We see a good adoption of that,” Gurukula said. “We think that the future will be voice-enabled.”

As Amazon integrates Alexa into other devices, such as headsets, Gurukula believes adoption will increase, with bill pay being the most common use case.