The intelligent personal assistant Alexa can place an Amazon.com order for you, tell you the weather forecast for your area or play a trivia game with you — all at the sound of your voice. She might even be able to disclose your bank account or credit card balance, among other financial information.
Several financial institutions now have developed technology that lets customers check up on accounts by simply asking an Alexa device.
What is Alexa?
Alexa is what’s known as an intelligent personal assistant — just like Apple’s Siri, for example. Alexa comes with Amazon’s compatible “smart” devices, most notably the hands-free Echo devices:
Amazon describes Alexa as the “brain” behind these devices. The company continues:
“Using Alexa is as simple as asking a question. Just ask to play music, read the news, control your smart home, tell a joke, and more — Alexa will respond instantly. Whether you are at home or on the go, Alexa is designed to make your life easier by letting you voice-control your world.”
Financial institutions with ‘skills’
A “skill” is Amazon’s term for a capability of Alexa. So Alexa’s “Capital One skill,” for example, refers to Alexa’s ability to provide information to Capital One customers.
Capital One is among the several major financial institutions that now offer Alexa skills:
- Capital One's Alexa skill provides info about credit card, checking, savings, auto loan and home loan accounts.
- American Express's Alexa skill (called “Amex”) provides info about credit card accounts.
- U.S. Bank's Alexa skill provides info about credit card, checking and savings accounts.
Additionally, USAA is currently piloting an Alexa skill. The pilot is open to banking customers until late September.
Using Alexa skills
Activating an Alexa skill is as simple as saying “enable [skill name] skill” — for example, “enable Capital One skill” — to an Alexa-powered device. USAA’s pilot skill is an exception, as you must first sign up for the pilot at the USAA labs webpage. You will be asked to enable cookies if you haven’t done so.
Before you first use the skill of a financial institution like those mentioned in this article, you’ll also need to link your financial account to your Alexa device.
After that, you’re set. Simply ask the right question. Visit a particular Alexa skill’s Amazon webpage — like the links in the prior section of this article — to learn which questions it enables you to ask.
When using USAA’s skill, for example, you can ask Alexa questions like:
- “Alexa, how much money do I have?” (Example answer: “You have a total of $2,618.51 in your two bank accounts.”)
- “Alexa, how much do I have in my checking account?” (Example answer: “You have $1,809.97 in your classic checking account.”)
Do you use an intelligent personal assistant to access financial info at the sound of your voice? Tell us about your experience below or over on our Facebook page.