British bank NatWest has been testing out Google Assistant compatibility to allow customers to do things like check their balance via voice assistant, according to reports.
As of Monday (Aug 12), account users who are in the trial can ask the Google Home smart speaker for things like recent spending and transaction history.
The trial includes 500 customers and will last about three months, and if it’s successful, it could signify a new way for people to bank.
NatWest also thinks the new voice assistant capabilities could have helpful implications for visually-impaired customers.
In order to use the voice features, users will have to recite two numbers out of their six-digit PIN, to confirm identity. Then, a user can ask eight questions, which would include “how much money do I have in my account?”
The voice assistant will also have 15 banking tips, like insight into password security. It can also be used on a smartphone, with the information also appearing on the screen. NatWest said if the pilot is successful it will add more features.
“We are exploring voice banking for the first time and think it could mark the beginning of a major change to how customers manage their finances in the same way mobile banking made a huge impact,” said Kristen Bennie, head of NatWest's Open Experience digital innovation center. “This technology will make it easier for people to bank with us and could bring particular benefits to those who have a disability as voice banking eliminates the need for customers to use a screen or keyboard. This is one of a number of services that the bank is aiming to develop this year that uses cutting edge, innovative technology to better serve our customers.”
According to a recent report, about one in five households in Britain have a smart speaker, which is up from 7 percent just last year. Also, the report said that about 70 percent of owners use the device to listen to music.About a fifth of users listen to podcasts and about half listen to terrestrial radio.