a woman speaking into her phone while looking at papers

OCBC will be the first bank in Singapore to allow customers to do banking with Google Assistant. Source: Shutterstock

Talk to your phone, get your banking done

IMAGINE transacting with your bank by simply talking to your phone or your smart home speaker. That’s now a reality in Singapore and citizens don’t need to download any apps.

OCBC has rolled out an AI-powered voice banking solution that works with Google Assistant.

Speaking to Google Assistant via Google Home devices or smartphones, users can access a range of banking functions. This includes calculating mortgage loans, planning savings for children’s education, planning for retirement, and getting financial market updates.

This kind of banking service is a first in Singapore; although, this isn’t the bank’s first foray into voice-enabled services.

OCBC first rolled out voice payment capabilities using Apple’s Siri in 2016. It has since expanded functions, allowing Siri users to check account balances and make funds transfers via the digital voice assistant.

Aditya Gupta, Head of E-Business Singapore, OCBC said: “For our customers to be able to interact with OCBC services by simply speaking to AI assistants is an exciting development and an important one as we shape the bank of the future.

“We are the first bank in Singapore to collaborate with Google on this game-changing service, and will continue to embed ourselves in consumers’ lives using voice-powered AI tools, which will be able to answer more questions and perform more tasks for OCBC customers over time.”

Globally, voice-based banking is not new. Barclays UK and the Royal Bank of Canada have rolled out Siri powered offerings, while India based HDFC Bank and Capital One US have opted to roll out their voice-enabled services on Amazon Alexa.

ING Europe, Santander UK, and Wells Fargo US have also slowly rolled out voice-activated offerings on their own banking apps. This might be less appealing to customers, as a separate app needs to be downloaded, instead of being readily available.

HSBC UK, on the other hand, took a different route, opting to use voice in biometric security instead.

Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore, too, has replaced passwords with voice recognition technology for identity verification. However, there is no news yet of any voice activated banking services.

As of now, OCBC remains the only player in Singapore to roll out voice-based banking. It is also one of the first to incorporate banking services on Google Assistant.

OCBC said voice banking complements its other digital services. Last year, the bank rolled out “Emma”, a chatbot that answers home and renovation loan queries on the bank’s website.