Natwest Trials Voice Banking With Google Assistant and is Somehow Convinced it's a Good Idea

By Shabana Arif on at

Natwest is trialling a new way of doing internet banking that's essentially those annoying automated calls to your bank but with your Google Assistant instead.

Voice banking will have you ask your smart speaker something about your bank account, and rather than just giving out the info willy nilly - which you don't want - you'll be prompted to cough up your password digits, and then asked a few other questions so that is can figure out what you want. You're saving no time at all doing this over whipping out your phone and signing into a banking app, and the demo video just makes it look like a pain in the arse, frankly.

“We are exploring voice banking for the first time and think it could mark the beginning of a major change to how customers manage their finances in the same way mobile banking made a huge impact,” said NatWest’s head of 'Open Experience', Kristen Bennie.

There are a multitude of potential security issues here, the most basic of which is anyone within earshot hearing this exchange.

Natwest has said that voice banking could benefit “those who have a disability as [it] eliminates the need for customers to use a screen or keyboard. There are also advantages for blind customers making it easier to complete tasks without the use of a screen or keyboard.”

While it presents an alternative for accessibility, having your details broadcast across the room still isn't ideal, and you can almost the same functionality using voice commands to call your bank and go through the automated system there, with the added option of putting it on speaker if you want everyone to hear your business.

The three-month trial is exclusive to Google devices right now so I guess we'll see if it was just as shit as thought this October. [The Guardian]