Alexa Becomes Enrichment FCU Members' New Banking Buddy

Enrichment Federal Credit Union has become the first credit union to roll out a new technology that allows members to manage accounts via voice-controlled smart speakers.

Members of the Oak Ridge, Tennessee-based credit union will be able to move money between accounts, make loan payments and access balances and account histories using voice commands on the Amazon Alexa system, according to a press release.

“Our goal is to provide members with seamless banking transactions 24/7 worldwide,” Enrichment President/CEO Craig Peters said. “We are proud to provide our members with a technologically convenient method of accessing their accounts, anytime and anywhere, while still providing a personal touch with a high level of account security.”

Alexa is Amazon’s voice-activated digital assistant. It’s part of the company’s line of interactive Echo speakers and other devices, and it operates using various “skills” that give the devices a range of capabilities, allowing them to do everything from play music to buy things or even lock the front door – all via voice command.

Development in this area of the technology world appears to be booming. The number of Alexa skills available for install hit 10,000 in February 2017, according to Amazon. By July 2017 it grew to more than 15,000 skills.

One of its latest skills – the Financial Interaction Voice Experience (FIVE) – is a banking skill by Best Innovation Group, a Tampa, Fla.-based technology think tank founded by former Wescom Credit Union Chief Technology Officer John Best.

“BIG is among a select group of companies to create an extensible skill specifically for financial institutions, which enables Alexa access for their clients. Enrichment FCU is the first credit union to deploy the FIVE skillset to its members,” the company said in the announcement.

Enrichment Chief Information Officer John Merritt said artificial intelligence is the most promising new technology available.

“We are excited to be the first credit union to implement BIG’s Amazon Alexa skill, which will enable our members to complete financial transactions via artificial intelligence – making financial solutions easier,” he said. “It is as easy as ‘Alexa – transfer $100 from my checking account to my savings account.’”

FIVE isn’t the only financial skill available for the Alexa system, but it is one of the most comprehensive, according to Best Innovation Group.

“While other skills allow customers to query for general information, such as loan rates or credit card balances, BIG’s FIVE skill enables users to access all of their credit union accounts, spanning checking and savings, car loans, mortgages and credit cards. It also offers member engagement capabilities, including educational audio clips on critical topics such as security and financial literacy,” the company said.

The technology was built to help financial institutions add new capabilities and more voice services over time, it added.

“We’ve been perfecting the user experience for months, understanding what members want to accomplish and how they speak about these activities,” Best said. “BIG has created extensive libraries of phrases for the skill and made it easy for credit unions to add more phrases – all with the goal of customizing and optimizing the experience for members.”

Enrichment has $456 million in assets and about 42,000 members.

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