As with the introduction of the ATM 50 years ago, sound and voice technology is beginning to alter the banking experience as we know it. In addition to providing assurance and satisfaction to consumers, a well-designed and distinct approach to sound helps consumers connect to the brand’s personality. A recognizable product sound can also play a key role in mobile app transactions and contactless payment verifications, supporting the user journey while aidingbrand recall. Each interaction is an opportunity to reinforce a brand message through sound. That 50-year-old innovation still remains a key consumer touchpoint, but now sound can help guide users through the transaction process.
From sound logos to music anthems and product sounds, brands in the financial sector are beginning to seriously invest in an end-toend sonic experience. Mastercard and Visa both recently launched a sound identity, recognizing that a holistic approach to sound is increasingly important. Following the release of their first new visual logo in 20 years, Mastercard also rolled out a sound logo, which provides a distinct melody that is repeated throughout product sounds and brand touchpoints, including an estimated 7.6 million payment points globally. (4) Visa considers sound as part of a broader approach to sensory branding, with their sound identity, along with animation and haptic feedback, functioning as an important cue that conveys a sense of completion and security to consumers.
“Giving greater dimensionality to our brand and letting our customers see, hear, or feel Visa when they pay, is an essential ingredient at a time when the physical point of sale is making way for greater digital environments. Sensory branding cues provide a way for us to express that our brand promise of speed, security, reliability and trust is still behind every transaction.” — Lynne Biggar, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Visa (5)
As audio cues become increasingly important with the growth of audio content and voice-driven interactions, brands in the financial sector will need to develop a sound strategy that meets functional needs and differentiates the brand in a soon-to-be crowded voice landscape. While there are over 3,000 Finance & Business-related voice skills available for Amazon Alexa, only 28% of consumers in the US, the UK, France, and Germany have used a voice assistant to transfer money. (7) But with an increase in the of use of voice assistants overall, 80% of consumers are interested in checking their balance via voice, indicating the potential for near-term growth in the sector. (8)
Banks are already taking advantage of the growing interest in voice, as seen with Barclays mobile banking app enabling voice payments via Siri, and Bank of America’s Erica virtual assistant completing over 50 million client requests in 2017. (9) The adoption of voice runs parallel to broader changes taking place in financial technology, forcing traditional banking companies to innovate. Chase and Wells Fargo are among those introducing mobile-first banking apps and integrating peer-to-peer payment systems in order to meet changing consumer expectations set by the speed and convenience of apps such as PayPal and Venmo.
However, one of the barriers to introducing voice into the financial sector remains privacy and security. Two-thirds of respondents to an Invoca survey said they were not using voice assistants for banking due to safety concerns. (11) In an effort to increase security and streamline the account access process, Chase introduced Voice ID in 2018, which uses voice recognition to verify customers’ accounts, with each customer having a unique “voiceprint.”
While there remain challenges to broader adoption, a strategic approach to sound and voice can begin to address consumer needs and represent a coherent brand experience that engenders trust.
(1) "The Rise of Voice: What the increase in conversation, voice assistants and AI means for business," Invoca, 2018.
(2) Amazon Alexa Skills, 2019.
(3) "The Rise of Voice: What the increase in conversation, voice assistants and AI means for business," Invoca, 2018.
(4) Rooney, Jenny, “Mastercard Launches First Music Single At CES, And CMO Raja Rajamannar Doubles Down On Sonic Branding,” Forbes, 2020.
(5) "Animation, Sound & Vibration – How Visa is Reinforcing Consumer Trust in a Changing Payments World," Visa (Jun 17, 2019).
(6) Global Web Index, 2019.
(7) "Conversational Commerce: Why consumers are embracing voice assistants in their lives," Capgemini (Jan 11, 2018).
(8) "Can You Hear Me Now? Voice Banking Demand Running Ahead of Banks," Javelin Strategy & Research, 2016.
(9 & 10) "The Top 20 Brand Innovators in Voice 2019," Voicebot, 2019.
(11) "The Rise of Voice: What the increase in conversation, voice assistants, and AI means for business," Invoca, 2017.
(12) "Consumer Intelligence Series: Prepare for the voice revolution," PwC, 2018.
(13) "Google Assistant Apps by Category," Voicebot, 2019.
(14) Mercator Advisory Group, 2019.
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