Tuesday , January 22, 2019

As Voice Commerce Becomes More Common, Jack Henry Adds More Payment Services

Core processors for financial institutions are starting to make their moves in voice-triggered consumer payments, and Jack Henry & Associates is looking to stake out an early lead in this nascent business. The Monett, Mo.-based company on Wednesday said its iPayQuickPay bill-pay service is integrated with Alexa smart speakers from Amazon.com Inc., allowing users to make payments through voice commands.

The service works through a bill-pay skill for Alexa. Users authenticate themselves with a PIN to complete their transactions. They can also review scheduled transactions and request what Jack Henry calls “basic” payment-history data.

One of the first to roll out the service is ChoiceOne Bank, a Sparta, Mich.-based bank with $646 million in assets. Executives there cite what they see as the increasingly common experience of voice-controlled functions in consumers’ homes and offices. “Just as mobile phones have become a part of our everyday habits, voice banking will do the same. It’s important that ChoiceOne provide these features as the next evolution of our bill-payment services,” said Tim Shangle, digital channels and marketing officer at the bank, in a statement.

Estimates by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners put the U.S. installed base of smart speakers at 50 million, with Amazon commanding a 70% share, followed by Alphabet Inc.’s Google unit at 24% and Apple Inc. with its HomePod device, launched this year, at 6%. Amazon a year ago opened Alexa to outside developers to program commerce skills, including Amazon Pay, Amazon’s online payment service.

An Amazon Echo device awaits a voice command.

This isn’t the first payment service Jack Henry has enabled for Alexa devices. Almost two years ago, the company launched a service called Episys FIVE, which allows credit union members to make mortgage, car-loan, and credit card payments and to move funds between accounts. Jack Henry, which says the service is enabled through a collaboration with Tampa, Fla.-based financial-services technology firm Best Innovation Group Inc., adds that it is customized for each credit union.

Jack Henry sees advantages in establishing an early position in the market. “While applications of voice banking are truly just beginning to show up, Jack Henry believes they are growing and will become more sophisticated,” said Greg Adelson, vice president at Jack Henry and general manager of its JHA Payment Solutions unit, in a statement.

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