Ever since Apple opened its Siri voice assistant to outside developers late last year, payment companies have been experimenting with the potential of voice-controlled payments. Here's a look at what some of the early adopters have already accomplished.
RBC launched money transfers with Siri, Apple's voice-activated digital assistant, in early March. Consumers can use the feature to make payments via the Interac Network, Canada's national debit system.
The process is not entirely voice-controlled; before the RBC Mobile app debits the user's checking account and sends the payment, it uses Apple's TouchID for fingerprint authentication.
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U.K.-based Monzo was one of the first payment providers to integrate with Siri — and one of the first to notice the limitations of Apple's voice assistant.
For whatever reason, Monzo discovered that Siri will struggle when asked to send P-to-P payments of less than £10. Its solution was to ask users to refer to the amount in "great british pounds" or "pounds sterling" instead of simply saying "pounds," and to use decimal points for values less than £1.
Square Cash, the P-to-P app associated with the prominent mobile point of sale provider Square, was also among the first payment services to add Siri support.
The feature came in a September 2016 update that also allowed Square Cash to be used within Apple's iMessage platform, with optional digital gift wrapping.
PayPal added support for Siri in late 2016, making it available for PayPal customers in more than 30 countries and most major languages, according Meron Colbeci, senior director of core consumer products at PayPal.
“Simply say, ‘Hey Siri, send Bill $50 using PayPal,’” Colbeci wrote in a blog post, adding: “Voila! One less thing to check off the to-do list this holiday season.”
PayPal has 192 million registered users and the company predicts it will handle more than 17 million P-to-P transactions during December.
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N26, a Berlin-based bank launched in 2014, was also quick to add Siri support for P-to-P payments.
N26 sets a limit of 25 euros (US$28) per transaction and up to 100 euros (US$100) per day, which is the standard local ceiling on Near Field Communication-based P-to-P payments, according to N26.
The bank, which has a mobile-first focus, operates in Germany, Austria, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Slovakia and Spain.
More banks and payment companies are working to support voice control across platforms, whether as a way to help the visually impaired or to tap into other voice assistants such as Amazon's Alexa, which has a Capital One Skill that lets people track spending and pay bills.