Amazon Alexa another first for Central 1

Your hands are busy chopping vegetables, but you want to pay your credit card bill before you forget. Not possible? Not anymore!

In 2018, Central 1 launched Canada’s first-ever authenticated voice banking service using Amazon Alexa. Financial institutions using this Amazon Alexa ‘skill’ (the name for apps on Alexa) can provide a customer’s information using voice, just like a customer service representative would, instead of providing only generic data like the address of the closest branch.

Even with their hands full, customers can make payments, send money to vendors, transfer money between accounts, and better understand their financial wellness using just their voice. Central 1’s smart, conversational user interface (UI) pairs hands-free functionality with human-like dialogue interaction and leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence to continually improve its own accuracy.

Contributing to the conversational aspect of the skill, we included ‘Easter eggs’ – added whimsy and features that make Central 1’s Amazon Alexa banking engaging and keep it interesting for users. These also provide opportunities for including financial well-being tips or facts in a light-hearted way.

This initiative was as fun for the developers to make as it is easy for customers to use. The team had the idea and built a design with a small group working over the holidays last year.

“It’s a project that really demonstrates Central 1’s core values: courage, collaboration and curiosity,” says Betty Leung, Acting Team Lead, Technical Development at Central 1. “We were curious to explore a new technology that wasn’t part of our regular work projects; we had to collaborate to do research, and we were courageous in that we were willing to work on this project in our off hours.”

Central 1’s Mobile Banking and Payments team followed best practices in design thinking, customer experience and Lean principles when developing the technology. The team approached a couple of our clients who are usually eager to adopt new technologies to gauge their interest and a pilot project was born.

“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 Omni/Digital Officer, Innovation Credit Union. “This is why Innovation has been such a big supporter of this Central 1 initiative.”

In the spirit of continuous learning and improvement, now that the Alexa skill is launched, the Central 1 team will keep looking for ways to improve and add functionality.

logged in