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Alexa heralds more than rise of digital assistants

01:30pm January 18 2018

Dave Isbitski, Amazon Chief Evangelist for Alexa - which launches today in Australia - speaking at a conference last year. (Getty)

Ten years ago it was all about the fingertip.

The big wave of change in banking had hit and customers had the ability to bank in the palm of their hand. Their interaction with us moved from a destination – the bank – to the desktop and then the digit, as we entered a whole new world of convenience. Customers no longer had to make the effort to come us to do their banking – we were moving with them.
There’s obviously been important developments in banking since that time, but it has been about a decade since the last big, exciting wave of change rolled in and revolutionised the way we serve our customers.

Until now.
Voice technology has arrived in Australia and with it comes the opportunity to change the way banks think about delivering services to customers.
For example, Amazon today announced the Australian launch of Alexa, its cloud-based voice service that connects customers to music, smart home devices – and now – personal finances. Westpac has developed “Skills” for Alexa, giving our customers the opportunity to ask her about their account balances, reward points earned and what’s new in the world of finance. While customers won’t be able to transfer funds or make payments yet, our teams constantly look at adding more features to all our technology, so watch this space…

Alexa lives at home and allows customers to interact with their voice from the lounge room, garage or kitchen. By moving banking to the home, we’re extending our relationship with customers by integrating our services into their lifestyles. You won’t have to stop what you’re doing to do basic banking tasks; Alexa is listening and waiting to help.

In the US, Alexa is already three years old, part of the rise of in-home devices changing how people interact.  
Customers will likely question the security of new ventures like this. So it’s important for us to be able to give people choice in how they interact with us, and make sure new channels like Alexa are safe, stable and secure. It’s about delivering trusted innovation, if you like, that customers can rely on.
For someone like me who has spent years looking at how to improve customer experiences, this is more than exciting – it’s energising. What we’re seeing is a shift from a process-driven exchange – to one that is designed to deliver outcomes. Can customers save more? Can we help them to pay bills on the go? And eventually, can we help them find better deals and grow their savings?
We’re only at the beginning of this next big wave of change, which will bring about seamless personal interaction. It’s an exciting time and we’re proud to be a leader in this space, opening up a new world of banking to our customers.

As General Manager, Consumer Digital, Travis leads all things digital for Westpac Group’s consumer brands. An advocate for seamless digital experiences, Travis is always looking to the next wave of innovation. He draws on a dynamic range of skills; with over 20 years’ experience including senior positions in Finance, Product and Operations. Travis lives in Bronte with his wife Christine, daughter Violet, and the family dog, Bernard. Travis loves to stay fit and healthy and catch the occasional wave.

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