Will Cortana Pay My Bills Soon?


cortana (1)The long-awaited Windows 10 anniversary update is just around the corner (Aug. 2, to be precise), and yesterday Microsoft finally laid out what users should expect.

Among other upgrades, Microsoft’s voice-activated digital assistant – Cortana – is getting a do-over, as well. She will now be better integrated with Windows 10 desktops and other apps, and will be able to save and recall important information, such as frequent flyer numbers. No word on payment capabilities for now, however.

Earlier this month, Cortana’s competitor, Siri, got some impressive upgrades, including the ability to make payments using Square Cash, Venmo, and number26. Amazon’s own digital assistant, Alexa, already allows you to pay for Uber or order pizza, and is now reportedly collaborating with Citibank. Should we expect Cortana to follow suit with payment capabilities in the U.S.? After all, it already has in some parts of the world.

On Tuesday, Indian payments app Freecharge, (which claims to have more than 20 million users) announced its launch on the new Windows 10 platform, AND the addition of voice-activated payments through Cortana. Last year, Microsoft announced the integration of Alibaba-backed Paytm with its digital assistant, allowing users to pay phone bills through Cortana, and even track payments.

Voice commerce and payments seem to be “the next step for everyone,” James Wester, research director at IDC, told Bank Innovation. But some players, like Amazon, are better fit for the task, than others.

Amazon is coming at it from the commerce part, not the voice part. In other words, it’s a better interaction for purchases that are already being carried out. That gives them the ability to leverage that initial setup and account information to buy something. Making online commerce easier is something Amazon gets. Setting up voice payments without that relationship, shopping history, and data already available, may be a lot more difficult.

Bank Innovation reached out to Microsoft for a comment.

For now, Windows fans will enjoy security upgrades, facial recognition features, and Xbox-Windows 10 syncing. Users can upgrade their Windows for free until July 29.

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