“Alexa, can you pick a new credit card for me?”
As of this week, the answer is yes.
The personal-finance company NerdWallet announced Wednesday a new skill for Amazon Alexa which is now live in Alexa’s skill store. People can now ask NerdWallet to find the best credit card. Then, Alexa leads them through a series of questions about their credit-card desires, spending habits and credit score range, such as “Do you like to keep things simple, or are you trying to maximize rewards?”
Once they answer those questions, Alexa suggests a card.
For some of the cards recommended, Alexa can also give a phone number consumers can immediately call, through voice command, if they want to apply right away.
The feature is designed to be similar to a conversation one would have with a friend or family member, when trying to ask for credit-card recommendations, said Kevin Yuann, a vice president at NerdWallet and general manager of the credit product group at NerdWallet. “We want to meet the consumer wherever they are,” he said. In this case, that’s in their own homes.
Alexa is more proficient in financial services
NerdWallet isn’t the only financial-services company introducing voice-activated features. Synchrony, an online bank, also announced Wednesday it will now allow consumers who have the Amazon.com Store Card to access information about their accounts and even pay their bills on Alexa.
Banks, including Capital One and Ally bank, have also allowed consumers to access their accounts through Alexa. Amazon is considering allowing consumers to pay one another on Alexa as well, according to The Wall Street Journal.
And credit agency Experian announced in November a service where consumers can check their FICO credit scores through Alexa. That service costs $25 a month.
NerdWallet may collect a commission
Here’s how credit-card shopping on Alexa will work: NerdWallet does not charge a subscription fee, but does make a commission on the credit cards it recommends, if consumers apply for them and are approved. Alexa will still recommend cards that NerdWallet doesn’t collect any commission from, Yuann said. And consumers are under no obligation to apply for the card through Alexa or, obviously, apply for a card at all.
If consumers are not approved for the card, or do not apply for one after NerdWallet makes a recommendation, NerdWallet does not make a commission.
The service is convenient, perhaps too convenient for some shoppers. Credit cards come with an average interest rate of almost 17 percent, so consumers who don’t think they can pay their bill in full each month might do better without having one at all.
NerdWallet doesn’t ask for any sensitive information through Alexa, Yuann said. Consumers don’t have to tell Alexa their exact credit score — just a range to give the computer enough information to make an appropriate recommendation. And none of the information is personally identifiable, he said.
The technology that Synchrony’s Alexa skill uses is the same as the underlying technology in an iOS or Android app and the consumer security controls are also the same, said Tim Christensen, who is the head of IT innovation and digital operations at Synchrony. Synchrony also requires those using its Amazon Alexa skill to have a four-digit voice code they enter when they log in.
When companies set up “skills” on Amazon Alexa, account credentials and information stay with the company that sets them up, such as Experian or Synchrony, said Sarah Sobolewski, a spokeswoman for Amazon Alexa and Amazon Echo.
NerdWallet’s skill does not access the same type of personal financial information and does not link to any financial accounts, she said.
Voice-enabled payments are also growing
Voice shopping will account for $40 billion of consumer spending in 2022, according to research from OC&C Strategy Consultants, a global consulting firm. Today, only 13 percent of homes have one of these devices, but by 2022 that share is expected to grow to 55 percent.
To keep your financial information safe, make sure the Wi-Fi network you use along with your voice-activated devices is secure, according to software and cybersecurity company Symantec. And to be extra careful, never ask any voice-activated devices to “remember” sensitive information such as a password or credit-card number. And as a general rule, always closely monitor your financial accounts.
Source: The New York Post