Wednesday , December 11, 2019

A Survey Exposes Consumers’ Ambivalence on Voice-Activated Payments

Whether most consumers will ultimately use Alexa or Siri or some other voice-activated device to make purchases may depend crucially on how much money is at risk. 

As it turns out, slightly more than half of U.S. consumers would be comfortable using the technology to pay for relatively small-ticket goods and services. But higher-value purchases are another story. Only 20% like the idea using a voice-activated device to pay for a vacation or to book flights, for example.

These are some of the results of the latest “Lost in Transaction” survey report released Tuesday by Paysafe Group, a United Kingdom-based merchant processor with major operations in the United States. In all, the report includes responses on a variety of payments technologies from 6,197 persons across the U.S. as well as Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Germany, and the U.K. Of these, 1,042 were U.S. respondents.

An Amazon.com Echo device that uses the Alexa voice assistant.

Generally speaking, the report suggests things are looking up for the role of voice technology in payments. The survey found that some 12% of U.S. respondents have already used the technology to authenticate themselves for an online purchase. And 54% feel that voice is “quicker and more convenient” than so-called traditional techniques, “suggesting an increasing acceptance of voice-activated systems in consumers’ lives,” Paysafe’s report says.

But respondents also want some other identifier to go along with their voice. Sixty-four percent said combinations such as voice and fingerprint would give them more reassurance about online transactions. And a whopping 81% say they would be most reassured if they could include a password.

The lingering doubts about the security of voice show up not only in the hesitance about using the method to pay for big-ticket items but also in consumers’ attitudes about the impact the technology could have on the security of their financial data. Just 39% of U.S. respondents would “trust their financial information is secure,” for example, when using voice. The same percentage say they don’t want companies to be able to access their biometric profiles.

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