eCommerce gets vocal with voice payments

Posted by Ryan Raubenheimer on

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The convenience of mobile payments may soon be made even easier with voice payment technology that’s rapidly taking hold.

The past year has seen everyone from via virtual home assistants like Amazon Alexa to e-commerce giants like PayPal adopting voice authorised payment transfers as the next wave of payment technology begins to sweep the globe.

So let’s take a look at voice payments, how they work and the future they may bring.

What are voice payments?

At the moment voice payments are generally restricted to paying bills and banking, utilising ever-convenient assistants like Apple’s Siri, Amazon Alexa and Google Home.

They allow users to command a payment is made via an integrated platform like a bank, PayPal or Tyro.

Digital Trends explains in the PayPal case voice payments work like this:

“You can request money from that fickle roommate who always seems to disappear come rent time by getting Siri’s attention — “Hey Siri” — followed by a simple command: “request $50 from Bob using PayPal.

“Conversely, you can send some spending money to your second cousin whose birthday you forgot by saying, for example, “send $50 to Julia using PayPal.” 

Meanwhile in Australia, Tyro Payments have also followed suit, again employing the assistance of Siri.

Launching the service this year, Tyro chief executive Gerd Schenkel told Business Insider their service was targeted at small to medium business owners, allowing them “freedom to pay bills and other overheads wherever they are, in only a few seconds and with minimal key strokes”.

Like PayPal the action involves saying something along the lines of: “Hey Siri, pay $250 to water bill using Tyro” as a way of making payments without even logging into internet banking.

And it’s not just e-commerce bastions leading the charge. In Australia, ANZ is also set to roll out a version of voice payment as part of its in-app banking service. In trials currently under way, payments of less than $1000 can be processed by voice.

ANZ customer experience and digital channels managing director Peter Dalton told Business Insider “voice has ‘five-to-10 times’ more security points than other forms of biometrics, such as fingerprints”.

“The technology is now so advanced that it can tell the difference between identical twins or even a voice recording,” he said. “We know this will improve security and be welcomed by our customers.”

Dalton said ANZ was aware people were becoming more used to using their voice to send commands to electronic devices, so sees the new biometric capability as “a natural extension of current technology” and expects high usage.

And it’s a trend that’s catching on…

Major growth predicted

Research by Business Insider found the voice payments movement was gaining momentum, with adoption set to rapidly increase within the coming years.

In a recent report they noted:

  • 8% of US respondents to a 2017 BI Intelligence survey said they used voice commands to buy something, send money to a friend, or pay a bill.
  • Adoption is set to grow from 8% to 31% of US adults by 2022.
  • Three factors will fuel this growth: an explosion of voice-enabled devices, generational gains in AI, and a strong consumer value proposition for voice payments.

So what next?

While voice payments currently facilitate online transactions, it’s a small step to the real world, and one that bricks and mortar retailers should be keen to embrace.

DigiDay explains major retailers are already starting to investigate voice payment applications.

They note that in February Starbucks launched a beta version of its voice ordering function for iOS and Alexa users, and about 1000 users in the US are testing the service.

For real world retailers it will allow new potential in the purchasing realm that will work in cohesion with an omnichannel strategy including websites, and apps.

Feasibly it may apply like this: A consumer peruses a bricks and mortar retailer’s website, selects an item of their choosing, commits by voice to buying it online, and either picks it up in-store or utilises same day delivery.

In the future it may also extend to authorising payments in-store by voice on a mobile phone.

The final word

The voice payments push is all about convenience but is a movement still in its infancy as voice assistants hone their ability to communicate and understand.

But, as Business Insider predicts: “Voice payments will evolve from clunky and poorly scripted sessions to interactions as natural as one might have with a personal shopper or bank employee”.

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