Amazon Alexa Can Pay Utility Bills in India
Amazon Alexa device owners in India can now ask the voice assistant to pay their utility bills through Amazon Pay, the company announced on Wednesday. This is the first place people are able to use Alexa to pay for utilities, including electricity, gas, water, and internet services.
Vocal Bill Pay
To pay utility bills with Alexa, users must first connect their accounts to Amazon Pay, an option which launched in India in August of 2018. Once that is set up, any Alexa device can handle a bill payment with a request like “Alexa, pay my electricity bill” or any other available bill options. Alexa will then confirm the amount they want to pay based on the connected account, and the money will be transferred to the utility. Users also have an option of including a voice PIN to increase security. Users can also ask Alexa questions about their Amazon Pay account, like the available balance. They can even add more funds to their account with a voice command, which is then confirmed via text message.
Amazon launched Amazon Pay in 2013, but only added Alexa as a way to connect with the payment system in 2017. Since then, it has expanded the list of companies that consumers can buy from via Alexa to a wide range of third-party developers. Voice commerce is a major focus for Alexa developers and Amazon has been working to incentivize them to add new purchase offers on voice apps they develop. Until now, purchasing via Alexa has not included any kind of utility service, but India could be a testing ground for a wider release of the feature. Amazon hasn’t said if or when the new feature will be available outside of India.
The new bill pay feature continues Amazon’s recent trend of adding to its Alexa offerings in India. The voice assistant added Hindi and Hinglish to its language offerings a month ago. There are already close to a thousand skills in that language in the Alexa skill store. Amazon brought its Alexa skill developer rewards program to the country in March and has seen growth in all kinds of voice commerce in the last two years, when the government removed a majority of its paper bills from circulation. Alexa has piloted other ideas in India as well, including when KFC became the first restaurant to enable ordering via Alexa in January in the country.
Amazon has worked to encourage people in India to use Amazon Pay in general, offering lots of specials and unique deals. During India’s recent Diwali festival, a major holiday in the country, the number of people using Amazon Pay tripled from the year before, according to Amazon, with around 25% of digital transactions during the six-day event happening on Amazon Pay.