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Our three winning client companies used speech and voice applications to solve a business problem or seize a business opportunity.

Letting Customers Send Their Money Where Their Mouth Is

Like many financial institutions, Israel Discount Bank, headquartered in Tel Aviv, provides a mobile app that gives customers access to their financial data and enables them to accomplish routine account holder tasks. Updates bring regular improvements to make the application more robust and keep pace with customers’ needs and expectations. Yossi Erez, the bank’s head of digital product and business development, says the strategy to maintain the app’s forward momentum fits with the growing power of mobile. “We see almost 40% of our clients using the digital channels. Many are mobile-only, and they don’t even use the web anymore.”

Voice Becomes Part of the Customer Experience

For the bank’s technology team, blending voice into the mobile mix was a natural evolution. “We think it’s one of the easiest ways to interact,” Erez says of the increased presence of speech. With its strong focus on the digital aspects of the financial industry, Israel Discount Bank saw the rise of voice and knew it presented a good opportunity. 

Google Pay, PayPal, and other payment applications are also seeing notable growth, with people increasingly using these platforms to quickly send money to each another. To provide customers with the best experience and next-generation capabilities on their mobile devices, the bank launched an innovative peer-to-peer (P2P) payment option that leveraged voice. “We have the P2P feature in our bank’s application, and the minute we saw we could combine that with Siri’s capabilities to make the process simpler, we knew it was a great match,” Erez says. It is intuitive and straightforward for customers: They simply tell Siri who to pay and how much. A quick confirmation within the bank’s application completes the transaction.

Adding voice functionality for P2P payments as part of the mobile app has been on the bank’s radar for a while. Problems supporting the Hebrew language struck Amazon and Google’s voice platforms off the list, but Apple’s Siri was a great fit. “When Apple opened the Siri API to third parties, we just jumped on the opportunity,” Erez says. It’s the kind of technology pairing that probably isn’t much of a surprise to those who monitor global fintech trends. A recent survey by Blumberg Capital revealed that Israel was a leader in the early adoption of financial technologies, with Israeli adults more likely to use mobile banking apps and mobile wallet apps than their counterparts in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and France.

Today’s digital-savvy customers expect a number of basic functions from their financial apps—seeing account balances and billing cycle dates—but Erez’s team was eager to do more. “We’re trying to make the interactions easier, to increase the usage and to increase what you can get from your banking app that’s on top of those basic needs,” he explains. Israel Discount Bank’s customers were already making good use of the institution’s recently released chatbot, and the addition of a voice-controlled P2P feature was also welcomed by users. “We get happy customers and they’re using the application more,” Erez says. “They’re getting a lot more out of it. It’s easier for them to use and it also helps the brand, I think.”

Speech Seeing a Future in Fintech

While the institution’s current voice implementation is focused on P2P money transfers, Erez says the organization’s strong digital position is already prompting them to explore additional functionalities that would further enhance the customer experience. “Moving forward, we would like to give them more information, so they can also ask for their account balance or their credit card balance, or their next billing date,” he says. But even as new features are added, Erez believes the bank’s entry into the voice realm will remain a key strength. “We started at a specific point that was pretty easy and very relevant, because of the great usage of P2P money transfers here. It’s why we went that way.” And as consumers encounter more speech-enabled technologies in their lives—from connected cars to in-home devices—Erez expects new innovations at Israel Discount Bank to follow. “Where there are possibilities that are relevant, we will find the right solution to combine voice capabilities with our customers’ needs.”

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