Google Assistant integration is the latest effort by NatWest to embrace new technology trends, having earlier this year dabbled with biometric security features
NatWest is trialling speech recognition technology in partnership with the Google Assistant, enabling customers to perform basic personal banking tasks via voice commands.
Customers taking part in the pilot will be able to ask the Google Assistant on their mobile phone or smart speaker for ‘commonly requested’ details, such as account balance and transaction history. They will then receive a verbal response.
The three-month trial involves 500 Brits, who will initially be able to pose up to eight questions to the assistant and access 15 voice-based banking tips.
NatWest head of open experience Kristen Bennie said: “We are exploring voice banking for the first time and think it could mark the beginning of a major change to how customers manage their finances in the same way mobile banking made a huge impact.
“This technology will make it easier for people to bank with us and could bring particular benefits to those who have a disability as voice banking eliminates the need for customers to use a screen or keyboard.
“This is one of a number of services that the bank is aiming to develop this year that uses cutting edge, innovative technology to better serve our customers.”
Natwest targets voice technology trend through Google Assistant integration
According to NatWest, there are currently around 9.6 million smart speaker owners across the UK, while the ubiquity of smartphones among the population – 55 million people own devices in the country – is no secret.
NatWest hopes that by engaging early with the growing trend of voice technology, it will be well-positioned to take advantage of future growth in the ‘voice banking’ space.
The trial is the latest example of the lender’s attempts to infuse its banking propositions with emerging technology trends.
In June, it introduced the facility for new customers to open an account with a selfie using biometric facial recognition technology, while earlier in the year it tested debit cards that use fingerprint identification to authorise contactless transactions.
NatWest director of strategy and innovation Georgina Bulkeley said: “We’re committed to creating effortless customer experiences — and the adoption of new technologies by our customers provides fantastic opportunities for us to do that.
“We were the first bank in the UK to launch Touch ID for mobile, we delivered the UK’s first paperless mortgage and we’re leading the way on artificial intelligence with our digital assistant Cora.
“This new voice service is the next step towards making banking even easier, opening up exciting opportunities to create truly effortless and seamless banking experiences.”