Google pictures a world where you can ask the Assistant to do almost anything. If you connect the right services to the platform, you're already close to all-encompassing voice control today. That's also true for financial transactions: You can tell Google Assistant to send money through Google Pay. Integrating proper online banking is quite another feat, though. Google and British bank NatWest (part of RBS) have taken it upon themselves to trial such feature in a limited beta, but the current implementation comes with lots of hurdles and drawbacks.
As a security measure, NatWest customers have to set up voice control in their existing online banking accounts. They can then obtain a four-digit pin code of which they have to say two digits out loud to the Assistant to verify their identity whenever they request anything. Since that's still not as secure as a password and can easily be spoofed by other people in proximity, users won't be able to perform transactions. It's the same workflow that allows you to unlock and lock doors with Assistant and Alexa – Google and Amazon have yet to find a more convenient way to provide security.
Once everything is set up, customers can ask Assistant questions like "What's my balance?" or "What's my last transactions?" As always, answers are provided verbally and on screen, depending on which device is used. But with the security-based limitations in mind, the question remains how useful the service will pan out to be.
While this is the first native Google Assistant banking integration we're aware of, voice banking has already been available as an action before. French Boursorama Banque offers a similar set of features and even allows you to make transactions via voice. The German Sparkassen briefly allowed transactions, too, until the function was pulled due to security concerns. In America, the US Bank and Capital One are on board, albeit the latter's solution is limited to Amazon Alexa. This list is not exhaustive, and it's likely only a matter of time until more financial institutions offer Assistant integration.
- The Guardian