It may only be available for the flagship Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+, and it may only be available for Korean speakers, but Samsung are taking big strides towards making voice controlled banking a reality.
With Bixby, Samsung’s AI virtual assistant, Samsung Pay users in South Korea can perform basic banking functions using voice commands. They can ask for the latest international currency exchange rates, for example, and query their account balance.
Users can also complete person-to-person money transfers using purely voice controls; Samsung has beefed up its security, adding a facial recognition service on the latest Galaxy devices, ensure voice commands can be used safely.
Apparently, Samsung are in the process of rolling out the service to international markets, but have been struggling to train Bixby in the intricacies of the English language, which is holding the process up.
So far, only customers of KEB Hana, Shinhan and Woori banks can complete voice activated banking commands – nonetheless, this can be considered a significant breakthrough by the South Korea based original equipment manufacturer (OEM) – the largest phone-maker in the world.
Like Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant, Bixby is a voice controlled Artificial Intelligence (AI) that allows users to bypass their phone’s touchscreen.
Bixby replaces S Voice, Samsung’s previous effort at a voice controlled assistant, which failed to catch on.
Bixby however, is a far more sophisticated effort whose ultimate goal is to make it possible for users to access all of the same features using voice commands that they can using the touchscreen.
Instead of “OK Google”, users can command Bixby to start working using a designated “wake word”.
The service is divided into 3 main parts: voice, a home feed and Bixby vision. With voice users can change the phone’s settings or use some apps – they can request to see photos taken in a particular location, for example – or even beam videos wirelessly onto a nearby TV Screen.
Bixby Home provides users with information relevant to their everyday lives, which can be personalised using cards, and there are also functions like a step-counter, Facebook and YouTube modules and a calendar.
Finally, Bixby vision is an AR feature that uses the camera to scan physical items and supply information about them – including how much it costs to buy them – or find similar items using Pinterest.
It’s early days for Bixby, and even earlier days for Bixby and banking, but the implications of such a service for the personal finance industry are wide-ranging.
Procedures that used to take days, or even weeks, can now be activated in a microsecond, and not even at the touch of a button.