ICICI Bank Publishes Alexa and Google Assistant Apps for Banking by Voice
One of the largest private banks in India has launched voice apps for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. ICICI Bank’s new voice apps expand the company’s iPal AI from a pure text chatbot, allowing customers to carry out banking tasks through either voice assistant.
ICICI’s iPal is available in India on both the Alexa and Google Assistant stores. Once the voice app is added, customers link it to their bank account with two-factor authentication to prove their identity. After the setup, users can ask their voice assistant for account balances or details about their credit card balance and recent transactions. As a voice speaking financial information aloud is not very secure; the answer is sent in a text message to the customer’s phone. iPal can also answer questions about the bank and its services, which the voice assistant will say out loud since there’s no confidential information involved. The voice apps are the latest of a few forays into digital tech undertaken by the bank. iPal recently became available as a WhatsApp chatbot, and the bank created a set of APIs for digital banking that can be integrated into other platforms.
“Our retail customers can execute a host of their banking requirements from their home securely and 24×7, without visiting a branch,” ICICI Bank executive director Anup Bagchi said in a statement. “With the growing comfort of customers in using digital assistants like Alexa / Google Assistant in every-day life, we believe that this would add immense convenience to our customers, as it allows them to get speedy and personalised banking experience whenever they need it.”
Banking for Voice
ICICI joins several other banks in integrating voice technology into its services. Capital One has an Alexa skill for making payments and embedded a voice assistant into its mobile app, for instance, and Bank of America has been busy racking up new patents for its voice-activated virtual financial assistant, Erica. Beyond retail banking, TD Ameritrade started allowing stock transactions through voice platforms, while FIVE, a platform created by a group of credit unions, is enabling members to transfer funds and pay down loans through both Alexa and Google Assistant.
ICICI explicitly cites the stay-at-home order in India necessitated by the novel coronavirus pandemic as one reason it published the voice apps. In-person tasks are limited in much of the world right now, including critical financial errands. That’s raising interest in all kinds of remote replacements using voice. Voice and text chatbots are becoming the norm for all types of businesses. And while Google Assistant and Alexa won’t allow coronavirus-related voice apps on their platforms, they are likely to see an uptick in software that replaces running errands in-person.