Customers at one of the UK’s major high-street banks will now be able to do banking through their Google Home smart speaker or smartphone.
A three-month pilot scheme by NatWest will enable customers to use Google Assistant to ask for commonly requested details, such as their current balance or recent transactions, and be met with a verbal response.
The new scheme will let customers ask up to eight questions and access more than 15 banking tips. If the pilot is successful, customers could see more added further down the line.
On smartphones, information requested by customers will also appear on-screen, and where a customer question cannot be answered, contact details for NatWest’s customer helpline will be sent to their device.
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When setting up the new voice banking service, customers will be required to use their existing online banking password and pin for security reasons. When accessing the service, they will also be asked to provide a partial voice pin in order to confirm their identity.
Georgine Bulkeley, director of strategy and innovation at the high street bank, said this latest move marks a series of tech-focused customer improvements. In recent years the bank has launched an AI-powered digital assistant, named Cora, and became the first UK bank to introduce touch ID for its mobile banking app.
“We’re committed to creating effortless customer experiences – and the adoption of new technologies by our customers provides fantastic opportunities for us to do that,” she said. “We were the first bank in the UK to launch Touch ID for mobile banking, we delivered the UK’s first paperless mortgage application and we’re leading the way on artificial intelligence.
“This new voice service is the next step towards making banking even easier, opening up exciting opportunities to create truly effortless and seamless banking experience.”
Kristen Bennie, head of open experience, said the voice-enabled banking could mark the beginning of a “major change” to how people do banking, adding that the bank has more tech-focused additions coming to its services this year.
“We are exploring voice banking for the first time and think it could mark the beginning of a major change to how customers manage their finances in the same way mobile banking made a huge impact,” she said.
“This is one of a number of services that the bank is aiming to develop this year that uses cutting-edge, innovative technology to better serve our customers.”