Santander launches voice banking for UK customers

Customers can check their spending via voice recognition, but it won't replace passwords

Santander has become the first UK bank to launch voice banking technology, initially allowing customers to ask questions about their spending through a SmartBank app.

A second phase of the rollout will arrive later this year, with added features including the ability to make payments, report lost cards, set up account alerts and ask a broader range of questions about their spending.

Transactions appear in real time on the iOS SmartBank app, with spend clearly calculated by day, month or year.

Nathan Bostock, CEO at Santander UK, said: "Technology is rapidly changing how customers bank and pay on the move. We want banking to be simple, personal and fair and we believe technology, like voice banking, will play a transformational role in the way we add value by creating more choice and convenience for our customers."

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While Santander is the first in the UK to launch voice banking, both HSBC and TalkTalk have recently announced similar moves.

Last month, HSBC announced it would soon bring its own voice recognition technology, Voice ID, to its 15 million customers, replacing the need for them to cite dates and passwords when using telephone banking services.

TalkTalk has also detailed plans to swap passwords for voice biometrics following a devastating cyberattack that cost the firm an estimated 60 million and 100,000 customers.

Santander does not appear to plan to replace passwords with voice biometrics, however.

"The worlds of technology and banking continue to evolve at pace," said Sigga Sigurdardottir, head of customer and innovation at Santander. "We are excited to be the first UK high street bank to bring voice-assistant technology into the customer user experience.

"Today sees us take the first step using this pioneering technology and the more customers use it, the more intuitive it becomes. We believe it has huge potential to become an integral part of the future banking experience."

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