Amazon Expands Alexa Utility Bill Payment Feature Worldwide
Amazon Alexa device owners will soon be able to pay utility bills by voice, the company announced at the Money 20/20 conference on Sunday. The new utility bill features first appeared in India a few weeks ago, but will now be available almost everywhere Amazon operates.
Utility Voice Payments
The new features connect Alexa to the Amazon Payments service. Once connected to Amazon Payments, users can ask Alexa about when their bill is due, how much it costs, and how the latest amount due differs from previous bills. They can also set up alerts so that they don’t miss a deadline. Once the connection 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 the user wants to pay based on the connected account and software supported by Amazon’s partner company, Paymentus, will send the money along to the utility.
Amazon did not say if the global roll-out will include all of the elements of the feature in India. Alexa users in India have the option of including a voice PIN to increase security when sending money. They can also find out how much is in their Amazon Pay account and add to the available money by voice.
“We are announcing today, that any customer whose utility is a member of the Paymentus Instant Payment Network (up to 700 billers) can soon use Alexa to get bill notifications as well as proactively find out when their next bill is due by asking Alexa.” @PRGauthier #Money2020USA pic.twitter.com/tBi7Be7nhE
— Amazon Pay (@amazonpay) October 28, 2019
The Subtle March of Voice Commerce
Alexa isn’t the first to offer utility bill payments by voice. Xcel Energy created a Google Action for Google Assistant-enabled device owners to pay their bills via the voice assistant earlier this year. The Action also offers informational details like due dates and monthly account balances. That, however, is limited only to Xcel, while Amazon claims to have almost 700 utility companies available on its new service. Once customers give permission, Amazon can use their stored information such as their billing address and name to find the appropriate company and account to link to using what it refers to as Biller Account Match, or BAM.
Amazon Pay launched in 2013, though Alexa only became connected with the payment system in 2017. Over the last two years, a growing number of companies have added voice as an option for purchasing things. The importance of voice commerce for Amazon has led to the company offering Alexa developers a range of incentives to create things for people to purchase by voice. Utility services have been missing from that list until now, but with the universal need to pay electricity and water bills, it’s a very appealing use case.