In the near future, humans will be having lengthy conversations with virtual assistants about a variety of subjects, including their finances.

Indeed, Canada’s big financial institutions are focusing on innovation that will make banking simpler and easily integrated into your daily life.

The end of passwords and security questions

With banks embracing biometrics, which is the measurement of unique physical characteristics for the purpose of verifying identity, you’ll soon be able to do your banking without using passwords or answering security questions.

Following a successful pilot project last year, one of Canada’s major banks has introduced technology that can verify a client’s identity in a matter of seconds based on the characteristics of their voice.

When clients contact the bank, their voice print is matched to their live voice in natural conversation. This technology means they do not have to memorize and repeat a specific phrase, which is the case with many voice biometric systems.

“We realize the typical verification process can sometimes seem like a series of skill-testing questions,” says Claude DeMone, Vice-President, Business Enablement, RBC. “This new technology simplifies this process significantly.”

In the not-so-distant future, you could be using nothing more than your voice to access accounts to pay bills and transfer money.

Financial Fitbits

Going a step further, when contacting the bank, you could be having human-like conversation with bots.

Advancements in artificial intelligence have led to the introduction of applications that perform automated tasks such as making dinner reservations, giving weather updates, and conducting online searches.

With financial institutions searching for ways to deliver value in the digital sphere, bots will be providing customers with information about accounts, loans, and other banking matters.

They could be offering specific products to customers and helping them make decisions that will help them reach their financial goals.

Linda Mantia, Royal Bank’s Executive Vice President of Digital, Payments and Cards, sees a future in which artificial intelligence powered smart bots leverage data and client insights to help customers lead healthier financial lives, the way Fitbit now tracks users’ physical activities to help them become fit.

Rob Cameron, Chief Product Officer, Moneris Solutions, a processor and acquirer of debit and credit card payments, says digital voice recognition assistants like Siri are constantly improving. “Right now we can ask for the score in the Toronto Blue Jays game. Soon, we’ll be able to ask for two tickets for the game tonight and have them charged to our Visa — and do so using our voice as authentication.”

Mantia emphasizes that “security is fundamental to the trust we’ve built with clients, and it must underpin all these technological advancements. Customers trust banks with their financial information, and security will always be the number one priority for the payments industry,” she says.

Enhanced security

On that front, some financial institutions are turning their attention to blockchain technology, a large decentralized ledger that records transactions and stores the information on a global network where it cannot be tampered with. Blockchain is widely known as the technology underpinning the bitcoin digital currency.
Facing challenges in data management and security, banks are looking at ways this technology can be used in cross-border payments, capital markets, and other applications.

Mantia says there is the potential for blockchain to fundamentally change how the financial services industry operates, but the size and scope of that change is still being understood — there will no doubt be a significant shift as the technology is used in test cases, but it’s early days still.

With a focus and commitment to security assured, all Canadians will be free to venture into the brave new digital world without reservations. This technology that is new today will soon be mainstream and will be expected by customers looking for enhanced digital interaction with their bank provider.