Digital Banking

Citi Testing Alexa's Bill Pay Tech

Amazon Alexa skils

"Alexa, can you pay by Citibank credit card statement?"

This sentence just might be a reality soon. Citigroup's FinTech unit is reportedly testing how it can use Amazon's voice-activated assistant, Alexa, and the technology that powers her voice in tandem with its mobile banking app. Beyond that, Citi is also looking to add facial recognition tech to its app so users could log in using facial authentication.

Beyond that, according to Citi's head of FinTech Heather Cox, Citi is also working to form new partnerships with startups to integrate P2P payments, among other features, onto the mobile banking app. She was not able to name any specific partnerships.

While the concept of financial companies using Alexa to make bill payments using the voice-activated tech is relatively new, Citi isn't the first of its kind to do so. Capital One also offers bill payments options. Alexa can also share balances and pay credit card bills for that account.

Through a new partnership between Amazon and Capital One to enable customers to conduct bank transactions with their voice, the bank says these payments are fully encrypted, leaving Amazon out of the account process. Alexa also lets its users have a security code so other users cannot authorize transactions.

This is among Alexa’s latest “skills” that extend the virtual assistant’s abilities to engage with consumers for payments and commerce transactions.

But for Citi, the focus appears to be about more than just bill payments. Instead, based on the reports, Citi is looking to see how Alexa and its tech could be integrated into the entire digital banking experience. This could include adding Alexa's capabilities to other type of biometrics, including facial, voice and touch recognition to authenticate a digital banking experience. Citi may also eventually look into how social media payments could be integrated into its banking options.

“We are piloting a concept where you can be on the network of your choice to communicate with us,” Cox said, noting that the app will “become more a part of what you do with your life.”

The facial recognition is one thing Cox specifically noted in the upgrades.

Just by pointing the camera at a person's face, she said, “it can detect that it is scanning a live person."

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