Millennials Traditional Financial Services
Payments Innovation

‘Alexa, Bring Banks Millennials’

Linking arms with traditional financial services providers may not be top of mind for many millennials, but could the power of voice-activated commerce change the narrative? Doug Brown, SVP and Group Executive at FIS Mobile, joined Karen Webster to chat about how Amazon’s Alexa can help banks serve the most coveted and demanding consumer segment of all.

Oil and water. Vinegar and milk. Millennials and traditional banks.

At least that’s the conventional wisdom to this point.

But FIS Mobile is on a mission to change that – to shake up the way millennial consumers interact with banks – and they are enlisting a familiar millennial ally: Amazon’s Alexa and her voice-activated technology.

In this year’s PYMNTS/Alexa Challenge, the FIS team walked away with the Most Disruptive award for its approach to turning traditional banks into a millennial’s BFFs for life.

Doug Brown, FIS Mobile SVP and Group Executive, is convinced that Alexa offers a powerful platform that helps millennials plan for their life’s financial journey.

“We quickly saw how [Alexa] could tear down the barriers and friction points to some very important segments for our banking clients,” Brown explained, adding that Alexa provided a great way for banks to connect with the millennial base in a new and interesting way.

“We looked at it as the way to harness the disruption,” he added.

Using the combination of FIS Faye, a skill for Alexa that acts as an always-available financial coach, millennial consumers are provided with a trusted guide that gives them guidance for how to make some of major decisions they may face along their life’s journey — from paying bills while at college, to managing student loan debt upon getting a first job, to increasing saving plans after becoming a parent and even planning for retirement.


The FIS Alexa submission video, Life In A Day, illustrates the various interactions a millennial could have with FIS Faye as they age and go through the various points in time where major financial decisions must be made. Brown explained that the film helps people quickly understand more holistically that FIS Faye really does lend itself to a very meaningful interaction on key life events.

As the millennial segment continues to drift away from the traditional banking sector, Brown said the goal was to bring in a type of disruption that was favorable and beneficial to the banks themselves.

Whether it’s due to all of the new and shiny FinTech solutions in the market or simply because they may not have a significant amount of assets – a lot of millennials just don’t see the need to use more traditional financial planning and management services.

While they may see a need for these services later in life, when they have children or plan to retire, for now the engagement just isn’t really there, Brown added.

Brown feels strongly that banks should be focused on not allowing millennials to “off ramp” from access to banking, but should create deeper relationships with banks now since it is much costlier to win them back down the line.

Instead, financial institutions need to ensure the digital capabilities of their banking services and product offerings are relevant to keep the segment engaged today.

“Rather than let [millennials] get totally disconnected from the banking sector and experience, we think we should bring them banking experience that is relevant and contextual,” Brown noted.

“Alexa is a great way to do that.”


It probably doesn’t hurt that the core team of FIS engineers that participated in the PYMNTS/Alexa Challenge team are all millennials themselves, which Brown said also helped to deliver a solution that was very authentic to the wants and needs of the target segment.

Brown also expressed his excitement for the day that Alexa’s developer kit opens up to biometric authentication and the ability to detect tone from customers, which he said will enable FIS to know in real-time exactly how people are feeling about something.

This time of accessibility can be used to not only make FIS Faye more intelligent when it comes to problem solving and customer service, but also help financial institutions to improve their call centers, branches and every other consumer touch point across an enterprise in real-time as well.


Through the process of building something transformative and pushing Alexa to the limit, there was a lot that was discovered about the technology and ecosystem itself.

Brown explained that the FIS team discovered a great deal about how to introduce proactive and meaningful recommendations through the relationship built between a millennial consumer and Alexa, while also learning how to do this in a more elegant and authentic way – showing the true power of contextual conversation.

From the convenience of the natural interaction that flows to the voice conversation itself and even how Alexa’s intelligent learning helps it to accumulate knowledge, Brown emphasized the many reasons why the voice-activated platform provided a unique and fantastic opportunity for banks to engage with consumers.

“All the data and analytics gathered off of this tool is incredibly powerful and that’s another thing that kept us really excited about it,” Brown said. “Not just the experience and interaction but the true enterprise capabilities that we will drive off this.”


New PYMNTS Report: Preventing Financial Crimes Playbook – July 2020 

Call it the great tug-of-war. Fraudsters are teaming up to form elaborate rings that work in sync to launch account takeovers. Chris Tremont, EVP at Radius Bank, tells PYMNTS that financial institutions (FIs) can beat such highly organized fraudsters at their own game. In the July 2020 Preventing Financial Crimes Playbook, Tremont lays out how.

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