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Santander banking app lets customers pay using their voice

The bank has integrated a new voice recognition feature to assist customers with payments.

By Hannah Williams

Santander has become the first UK banking firm to deploy voice payment technology to enable customers to make transfers using voice.

Following the company’s launch of its “voice assistant banking” technology in 2016, Santander has revamped its iPhone SmartBank app to integrate its new voice payment technology into the app.

In order to use the feature, users need to log into the app and command the voice assistant to make a payment to previous payees.

The new service is currently unavailable to Android users but the bank says it will work on exploring and developing the app.

Banks are facing increased pressure to deploy digital technologies and to increase the amount of innovative technology in banking. Several high street banks such as Barclays and HSBC have been using voice controls as a secure way to log into internet banking as one step of the digital transformation effort.

For instance, HSBC launched its voice recognition and touch security services in the UK last year as part of its biometric banking offering.

One of the core reasons why banks have been seeking to deploy new technologies is to decrease overhead costs. Call centres and branches have been identified as areas that cost savings can be made, and new technologies such as robo-advisors are increasingly being deployed at the expense of staff.

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HSBC revealed to have closed almost half of its UK branches since 2013 as it claims to have experienced a 40 percent drop in customers coming into branches.

TSB is another example, with the bank having announced an extra 29 branch closures  saying that “some locations are very quiet, serving fewer than 200 people a week.” This shows how the rise of technology innovations can be identified as a noticeable disadvantage for branches, but also that technology will play an increasingly important role in maintaining contact with customers.

Ed Metzger, Head of innovation technology and operations, Santander UK said: “This pioneering technology has huge potential to become an integral part of the future banking experience, playing a transformational role in the industry and redefining how customer to choose to manage their money.”

Metzger said that updating the app to enable payments gives users “another channel of choice in how they wish to bank.”


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