U.S. Bank Launches Spanish-Speaking Voice Assistant for App
U.S. Bank has debuted a Spanish-speaking version of its Smart Assistant mobile app voice assistant. The bank claims Asistente Inteligente de U.S. Bank is the first such tool among financial institutions in the U.S., allowing customers to converse by voice and text with the AI in Spanish.
The new language feature becomes available simply by setting the U.S. Bank mobile app language preference to Spanish. Like its English counterpart, there’s no wake word; the AI starts listening when a user taps the microphone button in the app. Should there be a request that the AI can’t fulfill, it will connect the user with a human banker using text messages or a phone call. The voice assistant will answer questions about balances, move money around, and search through transactions in response to people speaking or typing in Spanish, a language spoken by 13% of the country’s population. According to the bank, Hispanic people rank Spanish speakers as the second most important element of their decision on where to bank, after location. Getting idiom and other idiosyncratic aspects of speech correct involved development and testing by U.S. Bank and Spanish-speaking organizations connected to the company.
“Translation apps sometimes struggle to decipher words with more than one meaning, such as ‘balance’ – are we talking about your equilibrium or how much money is in your account?” U.S. Bank head of conversational experiences and capabilities Richard Weeks said. “Our software engineers solved for that through a hybrid approach using smart technology, natural language processing and real-time interpretation.”
U.S. Bank introduced the English version of Smart Assistant in the summer of 2020 when demand and necessity for remote banking were soaring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new voice assistant followed in the footsteps of other banking voice AI projects at financial institutions. The Clinc-powered natural language understanding blends with the bank’s business logic software and specialized APIs. The Spanish feature may give U.S. Bank a leg up against the mushrooming competition. Wells Fargo recently launched a virtual assistant and Bank of America saw its existing virtual assistant, Erica, become increasingly popular, since the pandemic.
“Asistente Inteligente is the first Spanish language virtual assistant of its kind in the United States, offering Spanish-speaking customers the very best digital banking tools from U.S. Bank,” U.S. Bank chief digital officer Dominic Venturo said. “This not only builds on U.S. Bank Access Commitment, our long-term approach to help diverse customers build wealth, but also demonstrates our continued emphasis on putting customer experience first, by creating new digital tools that enable them to bank however, whenever and wherever is best for them.”