KEY POINTS

  • Voice payments are beginning to catch on. Eight percent of US respondents to a recent BI Intelligence survey said they used voice commands to buy something, send money to a friend, or pay a bill.
  • It’s a matter of time until mass adoption. Use of voice payments will nearly quadruple over the next five years to reach 31% of US adults — 78 million consumers — by 2022, BI Intelligence estimates. Three factors will fuel this growth: an explosion of voice-enabled devices, gains in artificial intelligence (AI), and a strong consumer value proposition for voice payments.
  • Providers are moving into voice payments early to build a lead. Amazon, Apple, Google, and PayPal are part of the growing list of companies making these next-generation payments possible.
  • Banks are betting on AI, too. Bank of America has announced a voice-based assistant that will deliver the personalization of an in-person interaction to millions of mobile banking customers. Meanwhile, Capital One has an integration with Amazon's Alexa, an SMS-based chatbot, and an upcoming integration with Microsoft's Cortana.
  • Next-generation voice assistants will blow the current generation away. Over the coming years, 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.
  • Getting to the next generation will not be easy, but the payoff will be huge. With judicious investments in AI, grounded in realistic expectations of adoption, providers that accumulate first-mover advantages today will position themselves for success as adoption starts to pick up.

Introduction

A revolution in payments and banking is beginning as virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa gain the abilities of cashiers, personal shoppers, and bank tellers. Already, Siri can help users make peer-to-peer (P2P) transfers with Venmo, Alexa can pay off Capital One credit card bills, and Google Assistant can let users shop with their voice from nearby stores, while Samsung's and Microsoft’s virtual assistants are expected to gain payments abilities in time. As virtual assistants get more powerful, the seeds for mass adoption of voice in payments and banking are starting to grow.

Every day, voice assistants get smarter through machine learning, devices compatible with voice assistants crop up in more places, and more banks and payments providers build support for voice capabilities. These advancements are [...]