2018 BAI Global Innovation Award Finalist

BAI Global Innovation Awards 2018 finalist Best Innovation Group


Innovation in Customer Experience

Best Innovation Group – U.S.A.
Financial Innovations Voice Experience (FIVE)

BIG team photo The Financial Innovations Voice Experience (FIVE) is a voice-first platform that allows a wide range of financial interactions for credit union members, from asking about hours and phone numbers to transferring funds between their shares and loans.

With FIVE, members can transfer between shares, make loan payments, access balances and get account histories for checking, savings, and loans. All using voice commands secured by a single sign-on and integrated into the credit union’s core processing platform. The transaction options available through BIG’s skill provide members full access to their credit union accounts using FIVE’s intuitive voice interface.


The Problem

Voice-first devices, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, are increasingly popular and offer an alternative to existing digital banking channels for users who wish to take advantage of improved voice recognition and those who may be unable to access mobile or online banking apps due to physical limitations.

Even though 44 percent of respondents in a recent CapGemini survey showed interest in using voice interaction for performing banking transactions, the financial services sector has been slow to adopt these new platforms due to the complexity of creating a secure application and guiding it through the certification process. The limited number of banking apps currently available in the Amazon Skill Store or on Google Play are primarily offered by large national banks or are limited in functionality. Without a dedicated development team and extensive knowledge of voice technology, it can be daunting to create a fully-functional app which mirrors face-to-face banking and provides a natural user experience. These challenges have prevented smaller financial institutions, and many credit unions, from developing for voice-first devices.

The Solution

BIG tackled a number of design challenges in creating the FIVE platform:

  • Interactions should be conversational and reflect normal language – “What is my checking balance?” and “How much money is in my checking account?” should both return the same answer.
  • The skill must be secure in connecting to the core.
  • Each skill should be customizable by the credit union, so that the credit union’s branding and personality are reflected. The credit union should be able to provide educational and promotional services using the voice platform.
  • The platform should be flexible enough to accommodate large or small deployments.
  • As new voice services emerge, the platform needs to be able to expand to incorporate new devices and services such as Cortana, Google Home and Apple.

BIG met these challenges by:

  • Creating a translation engine that allows a variety of responses to increase conversational and personable interaction. Every response can be customized by the financial institution so that it is branded as the credit union.
  • Implementing multi-factor authentication and user-configured PIN. FIVE does not hold any member PII or anything that would create a data source for a potential breach. All security is handled through integration with the core. A secure VPN exists between the hosted platform and the core.
  • Creating branded account linking pages to reinforce the member-to-credit union relationship and provide additional assurance to the user that the skill is legitimate.
  • Customized recorded messages allow members to hear from the credit union about educational and security topics from industry leading partners like Stickley on Security.
  • Designing a platform that can be a multi-tenant environment or deployed by a single financial institution, and which can be managed by the FI or by a third-party provider.

The Outcome

The Enrichment Voice Teller skill for Amazon Alexa was released to all 42,000 of the credit union’s members in November 2017.

Hundreds of sessions and thousands of interactions across the full spectrum of available activities reveal that users of the credit union’s Alexa skill are repeatedly returning to the skill to perform their banking transaction. Session data shows that members are using the skill not only to inquire about balances, but also to transfer funds and make payments on their accounts.

In addition, the credit union distributed a number of Amazon Alexa speakers to members as part of their adoption marketing campaign. The feedback Enrichment received from the campaign indicated that members are benefiting not only from the ease of banking using voice interaction, but also from other skills available for the Amazon Alexa.