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Voice Activated Payments for Business

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Last editedApr 20222 min read

The human voice has always been a key tool for communication. However, it’s no longer just interpersonal, but a means to communicate between humans and technology.

As well as ordering Siri to carry out Google searches and call our loved ones, voice technology can also be used for making payments. And, with the trend set to enter the mainstream, the question arises of whether or not small businesses should get in on the action and use voice activated payments.

What are voice activated payments?

Voice assistants, like Siri and Google Assistant, can be defined as technology used to interpret natural language in order to respond and act on user requests or queries. Currently, it’s estimated that 2.5 billion people worldwide use a voice assistant on a weekly basis, and Juniper Research indicates that that figure is likely to triple by next year.

It’s natural then, that the trend would make some headway in the payments sector, with many financial institutions incorporating the technology to enable voice payments. Some, for instance, offer users the ability to log in to online banking, access their balance, make transfers and pay bills through voice commands.

Voice activated payments are therefore defined as payments initiated by a user’s voice command.

The rise of voice activated payments

The COVID pandemic has helped accelerate the rise of no-contact payment methods, including contactless and voice payments, spurring innovation in the sphere of voice commerce.

Indeed, voice-enabled peer-to-peer (P2P) payments via digital assistants are growing, with 31% of the US population projected to use voice payments in 2022. Australian users won’t be far behind as the technology continues to surge in popularity worldwide.

Voice payments and small businesses

While the technology continues to grow, the question remains as to whether it’s suitable for small businesses.

With a pandemic to contend with, many small businesses have felt the pinch, especially when having to compete with huge companies like Amazon.

One of the ways that small businesses have lost out compared to their gigantic corporate counterparts, is due to an inability to match speedy same-day or next-day delivery. And, in the near future, small businesses may also come up short in terms of payment convenience, as Amazon and other large companies are likely to make voice payments more and more commonplace.

And, while many shoppers are keen to support local businesses, they may be put off by a comparatively old-fashioned and time-consuming payment system. This entails that in order to be able to compete, smaller businesses should be looking to ensure their payment technology is modern and up to scratch. In fact, optimising the consumer experience is key to competing in the ecommerce sphere.

On the other hand, voice payments are still in the fledgling stage and yet to enter the mainstream. For this reason, it can be a potentially costly gamble to over-invest in modernising your payment system as a small business. Indeed, Dylan Zwick, co-founder of AI analysis platform Pulse Labs, advises smaller businesses not to experiment with voice payment technology just yet, but wait for it to become the tried and tested norm for payments before getting involved.

Ultimately, the decision around whether your business should consider voice activated payments comes down to the preferences of your customers. If voice technology holds value with your customers and is something they have come to expect, then it would be worth the investment. On the other hand, if your customers are wary of the new technology and unlikely to utilise it, then it is certainly not worth considering for your business at this time.

Are voice activated payments safe?

From a consumer perspective, one of the more off-putting aspects of voice payments is concerns around security. However, like fingerprints and face recognition, the security of voice technology lies in the fact that every individual has a unique, inimitable voice. This, in addition to taking extra precautions with two-factor authentication, makes voice payments no riskier, and potentially safer, than other modern payment methods.

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