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Amazon Alexa can now manage your finances, with new Capital One skill

Fri 11 Mar 2016

Capital One Amazon Echo

A new collaboration has this week seen U.S. finance giant Capital One join up with Amazon’s home automation systems. The new partnership promises to make Amazon devices appeal to a more financially conscious user, but does not scream out to those who prioritise security – wary of placing a third-party in control of one of the most exploitable areas of their personal data.

Capital One announced that all devices enabled with Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa, including Amazon Echo, Amazon Tap, Echo Dot and the Fire TV, would be able to interact with a user’s financial information.

Customers will now be able to manage their bank accounts, check balances, review recent transactions, make payments, and gain real-time access to savings account information, via the connected gadgets and completely hands-free.

Rob Pulciani, director at Amazon Alexa commented: “The Alexa Skills store is quickly growing, and today we’re excited to add the Capital One skill – which is the first skill that will enable Alexa users to interact with their financial accounts.”

To use the feature consumers must enable the dedicated Capital One skill in the Alexa app available on iOS, Android, Fire tablets or online. Once enabled, users can begin to ask the assistant questions related to their accounts. Suggested queries include: ‘Alexa, ask Capital One when is my credit card payment due?’ and ‘Alexa, ask Capital One to pay my credit card bill.’

While Capital One is promising a better user experience through the Alexa set-up, the project immediately sparks concerns around security. Allowing a voice assistant to mediate your finances does not appeal as a particularly wise strategy.

Alexa has claimed that the new tool is simply an informational skill and leaves funds untouched, except for when users direct Alexa to pay their bills – at this stage payment is processed through an account previously set up at Capital One, through its website or app.

The company explained that when a user launches the Capital One skill, a local security check is also carried out, where they are asked to enter their username and password, which are both private and encrypted.

An additional security feature offers users the opportunity to create a 4-digit PIN key which Alexa asks users to provide before opening the Capital One skill. However, during testing it was found that the majority of users disabled the PIN option in order to quickly access their finances.


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