The Minneapolis-based bank ran an employee pilot over the summer and initiated work on the Alexa skill earlier in 2017, said Gareth Gaston, executive vice president and head of omnichannel banking at U.S. Bank. The feature was announced Wednesday. Some U.S. Bank customers are quite familair with voice banking already — the bank rolled out voice controls for its FlexPerks credit card back in 2014.
The key to getting the product ready for market in such a short time was to “prioritize the APIs on our side,” Gaston said. “We can repeat that as we roll out against similar platforms from Google and Apple.”
Available features include checking account balances, paying bills, and viewing transaction history across a user’s U.S. Bank accounts. Gaston sees an enhanced feature set in the future, but the bank wants to learn more about how customers are using the service first.
Gaston sees voice as an important step in the coming post-app world. “Who would have thought that opening a weather app would be a pain point?” he asked. “But it’s so much easier to ask Alexa for the weather.”
Not many banks are on Alexa as of yet – Capital One was the first, in 2016 – and this may not be surprising. Gaston noted that the voice code authentication “is still a bit clunky,” U.S. Bank is prepared for whatever authentication method succeeds it, and on that note, for whatever succeeds Touch ID on iOS.
“We’ve implemented a multichannel authentication platform for Touch ID and other methods, so it’s simple to plug in new way and enable that in a mobile app,” Gaston said.