Ask Amazon Alexa to pay your bills, with new Capital One app | #SXSW

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo is on a roll. From being named the top choice for consumers looking to automate their home, to adding two new voice-activated companions, Echo’s latest collaboration makes it more useful for financially conscious users.

Capital One Financial Corporation announced a new skill for Alexa Voice Search at this year’s SXSW, that allows Alexa-enabled devices such as the Amazon Echo, Amazon Tap, Echo Dot and Fire TV to interact with a user’s financial information.

Starting today, users can stay on top of their credit card account by checking their balance, reviewing recent transactions, or making payments, as well as get real-time access to checking and savings account information, all hands-free. 

“The Alexa Skills store is quickly growing, and today we’re excited to add the Capital One skill – which is the first skill that will enable Alexa users to interact with their financial accounts,” said Rob Pulciani, Director Amazon Alexa. “Now Alexa can quickly provide your Capital One banking balance, latest transactions and more on Amazon Tap, Echo Dot, Amazon Echo or Fire TV devices —all conveniently with just your voice. More and more voice experiences are coming, and it’s only going to get better for our customers.”

Instead of using your computer, smartphone or tablet to log into your online banking account or physically going to the bank, you can simply ask Alexa for the information needed.

How it works

To do this, users must first enable the Capital One skill in the Alexa app. After enabling the skill, users can now start asking questions such as:

“Alexa, ask Capital One for my Quicksilver Card balance.”

“Alexa, ask Capital One for recent transactions on my checking account”

“Alexa, ask Capital One when is my credit card payment due?”

“Alexa, ask Capital One to pay my credit card bill.”

To avoid any confusion, Alexa will use pre-linked funds to pay bills. Though one would hope Alexa could use her own funds to pay your bills, that’s not going to happen. 

The Capital One Alexa skill is available today. Alexa customers can enable the skill in the Alexa mobile app on iOS, Android or Fire tablets or at then pair their Alexa and Capital One accounts using their Capital One username and password.

Though this latest innovation from Capital One may demonstrate the company’s commitment to creating better experiences, products and tools for their customers, one cannot help but ask how secure this new connection is. Is it really wise to have a voice assistant blurt out your finances?

Keeping things secure

In a statement sent to SiliconANGLE, it was explained how the Capital One Alexa skill is more of an “informational” skill rather than a “money management” skill. The skill allows users to ask Alexa for balances, payment due dates, and information on recent activities in the account, but funds are not touched, except for paying the credit card bill with an account that has been previously set up through the Capital One site or app.

When a customer enables the Capital One Alexa skill, a local security check is performed and the user is then asked to sign in using their Capital One username and password, which are encrypted and not shared.

To add a layer of security, users can create a 4-digit “Personal Key” which Alexa asks users to say before the Capital One account is accessed. Despite the added security offered by the Personal Key, it was determined during the testing phase that most users disable the personal key requirement to be able to quickly access their basic information.

Photo by turoczy