Credit unions pioneer Canada’s first authenticated voice banking service

Customers can make payments, transfer money and check up on their finances using just their voice

Two credit unions in Canada have launched an authenticated voice banking service using Amazon Alexa.

The technology, pioneered by Innovation Credit Union and Conexus Credit Union, who partnered up with credit union service organisation Central 1, will enable customers to make payments, send money to vendors, transfer money between accounts, and check up on their financial wellness with just their voice.

The technology will also help those who are visually impaired, or are unable to leave their homes or to use their keyboards or smartphones, to conduct their banking.

“Credit unions need to fix the public’s perception that banks are more innovative than they are, and this is a giant step in that direction,” said Alexander Chan, product manager with Central 1, who led the team that developed the technology.

“This new technology is a game changer in that it improves the banking experience for a specific demographic of user; it simulates talking to a live agent, is secure, flexible and helps people better understand and manage their financial wellness.”

Mr Chan added that the technology was the result of “a highly collaborative environment and the values that drive financial (and all) co-operative businesses”.

“The credit union system is different from other financial institutions in the sense that bureaucracy doesn’t factor in to the decision-making process. As a result, we were able to create something very special, very quickly. Not putting profit before people means we can focus on the innovation and design process.”

The service has high level of authentication and security measures built in, including an industry standard technology OAuth and voice biometrics security measures provided by Amazon.

“Innovation Credit Union believes that Conversational UI is going to play a significant role in future member interactions, particularly with Millennials and Gen X,” said Dean Gagne, chief digital and technology officer, Innovation Credit Union. “This is why Innovation has been such a big supporter of this Central 1 initiative,” he added.

Innovation Credit Union provides financial services to over 49,000 members including individuals, businesses, and organisations across the province of Saskatchewan. Conexus is Saskatchewan’s largest and Canada’s sixth largest credit union with 125,000 members.

“At Conexus we are passionate about providing solutions that make a meaningful difference for our members. Banking is no longer a place you go, but a thing you do and this new authenticated voice banking solution, is just that – access anytime and anywhere your Amazon Alexa goes,” said Jeremy Trask, chief digital officer at Conexus Credit Union.

“Partnering with Central 1 means we’re able to ensure our member are getting game-changing technology and services that improve banking experiences while never compromising security,” he added.

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