Winners For The 2016 Challenge

Pymnts/Alexa challenge Winners

Twelve teams and 14 companies participated in the five-week challenge to use Alexa and her voice-activated technology to reimagine how consumers interact with their payments and financial services solutions providers

After 12 teams and 14 companies participated in a five-week competition to use Alexa and her voice-activated technology to reimagine how consumers interact with their payments and financial services solutions providers, the winners of the 2016 Challenge were announced today at noon.

Those 14 companies — Best Innovation Group (BIG), DaVincian Healthcare, Discover, Exa, Feasty powered by Zipscene, FIS, Fiserv, ONvocal powered by People Power, USAA, Vantiv, Visa and Western Union — dug deep into their innovation bag to solve everything from the $60 billion annual prescription abandonment problem to making checkout abandonment a thing of the past. Some were focused on giving chatbots a run for their money in the customer service arena, while others are using the technology to make financial services more accessible to a variety of customer segments.

The innovations were featured in videos and people were able to view them and vote on over a five-week period. Voters were able to choose from these categories when voting: Most Creative, Most Disruptive, Best Use Of The Technology, Easiest To Explain To Mom, Most Likely To Get Traction and the penultimate award, the 2016 Challenge Champ.

“This was about solving a real problem or re-imagining a future for a consumer and the ecosystem that surrounds consumers as they look at new ways to conduct commerce, buy things, solve problems and even manage the health care environment,” Karen Webster said at the unveiling of the solutions.

“The 2016 PYMNTS/Alexa Challenge pushed the boundaries of what everyone thought Alexa was able to do, as we all learned how powerful she really is,” she added.

This year’s winners

DaVincian Healthcare

Prescription abandonment and non-adherence is a challenging medical and economic problem facing our health care system today with annual costs of approximately $300 billion. DaVincian Rx introduces a prescription assistant skill to Amazon’s Alexa, helping people stay on track with medication awareness, daily dose reminders, adherence reports, new prescription and refill alerts, and innovative, convenient payment and delivery options.

Prescription abandonment is a major problem in the health care field and that’s why DaVincian made its Alexa skill about helping consumers stay on track of their medical needs — whether it be taking a pill, getting a refill, getting a prescription delivered or making a payment.

“Many of the barriers related to people staying on track with their prescription plan can easily be removed by bringing in simple payment methods from the financial field and novel delivery options,” said Meredith Porter, Chief Medical Officer for DaVincian Healthcare. “By using a voice command tech, we can guide patients to be better aware and have more control over their own treatment.”


Whether that was using the skill to review a checking account balance, to ask when a payment was due, or to make a payment, Hess said the goal was to focus on making things simpler for their customers.

Life moves quickly and people want banking and payments experiences that are in step with the way they live and work. With Alexa, Fiserv is advancing money management and movement at the point of thought. It’s financial services at the speed of life.

Fiserv’s take on the Alexa Challenge was to use Alexa to advance money management and movement at the point of thought. This particular service, however, is already a service, but the Alexa Challenge helped propel its potential.

“Our live cloud-based system running our current production digital banking system connected into our Fiserv payments system and developed an Alexa skill that connected the Echo into the system to do the most common and valuable and engaging user stories,” explained Scott Hess, VP Innovations Team at Fiserv.


USAA serves the military community by providing the best financial products and services. The company's focus is to continuously innovate in order to provide its members with world-class experiences, and the Alexa Challenge gave the company the opportunity to do just that. Through Amazon Echo, USAA enhanced the experience for its savings and brokerage services in a meaningful and convenient way that helps improve members' lives.

USAA used the challenge to take its skills to where its customers often need it most: to a savings booster skill.

“Often we find that our customers are really struggling to make their finances work. So what better time to help them in that decision process of what money to spend, how much money to spend and when to save then when they are shopping,” said Darrius Jones, AVP Enterprise Innovation at USAA.

This can be done by doing something as simple as asking: “How can I save $30, Alexa?”

“Alexa will respond with how much money savings booster will determine at anytime,” Jones said. “It really brought together the power of the Amazon ecosystem, both Echo and the shopping platform and the power of USSA’s advice.”


Powered by Zipscene’s consumer dining data, Feasty will deliver access to dining deals based on individual consumer preferences.

This particular Alexa skill is also aimed at transforming one common problem in the food industry: figuring out what to eat.

That’s where the combo of Zipscene’s consumer dining data merges with Feasty to provide a consumer with dining deals based on their own individual preferences. So instead of Googling that option, Feasty wants to use the Echo for another task.

Once a consumer says something like “Alexa, tell Feasty I’m hungry,” she would provide the consumer with options tailored to her own preferences, which are based on past behaviors. It also takes into account the time of day, weather, etc.

“We partnered to create an Alexa skill set that provides consumers with an easy-to-use intelligent support system that each of us makes every day,” said Jeff Bickel, Chief Product Officer for Zipscene.


Using Alexa to provide consumers with relevant and timely guidance to better inform their financial decisions.

Back on the financial services side, FIS used Alexa to provide consumers with relevant and timely guidance to better inform their financial decisions. Their skill was demonstrated with a “day in the life” theme to show how Alexa can use FIS Fay to step in to help a consumer during their financial journey.

“Our skill helps act as an always-available coach for all of life’s needs, not just for the present, but on a go-forward basis. So we really focused our application on how to guide millennials through major financial life events,” explained Doug Brown, FIS’ head of mobile.

“We were excited to push the limits of how Fay, the skill for Alexa, could really engage people in a whole, new meaningful way,” he said.


“We’ve been playing with Alexa since last November and we have built out a basic bank transaction and money transfer skill for our showcase for Super Bowls,” said Jagdeep Singh Sahota, Sr. Director of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships at Visa.

“We looked at taking Alexa into highlighting the future of voice commerce where a consumer will be able to use Alexa to discover, browse and seamlessly conduct a commerce transaction using their voice,” he added.

In this particular demonstration case in the challenge it was ordering chocolates for a friend’s birthday that the person forgot, solving multiple issues at once.

Visa used the challenge to take voice commerce to the next level using Checkout and Visa Offers. But it wasn’t Visa’s first dance with Alexa.

Visa tapped into its digital ecosystem to showcase the seamlessness of using its tokenized digital payment solution, Visa Checkout, to order an item via the Echo.