Bankers vote for innovation

Fully half of executives are preparing to make significant investments in digital channels. All are familiar with voice technology and intend to use it for big data analytics, IVR, and biometrics.

I. Key Findings

1. IT giants are encroaching into financial services and threatening banks in the digital-mobile space.

2. To stay competitive, banks must pick up the pace in developing omni-channel remote banking solutions that are simple and delightful to use.

3. The human voice adds a personal touch to remote self-service channels and is one of the most powerful sources of big data.

4. Breakthroughs in speech technology are revolutionizing remote banking by providing targeted analytics, virtual customer support, voice biometrics, and seamless mobile integration.

II. Traditional Banking Under Assault

The traditional banking model is under tremendous pressure – especially in the EU, where the financial landscape is being flattened day by day. Banks have been unable to achieve data-driven cross-channel functionality and are struggling to integrate digital, physical, and human interactions. Physical branch networks are failing to meet the expectations of the mass affluent and emerging affluent, in terms of capturing their attention, loyalty, or share of wallet. Meanwhile, customers are taking up mobile banking faster than they did ATMs in the 1980s. Gallup Senior Consultant Jon Hughes predicts that banks will need to find the “sweet spot” between physical and remote banking, with the big winners being able to provide personalized channels for some situations and customers, alongside a “frictionless, integrated digital offering to handle most of the customer’s daily needs.”[1]

Sweet as the rewards may be for the few banks who manage this, newer players are eschewing the brick-and-mortar model altogether. Most threatening are IT giants like Facebook, Google, and Apple, who are encroaching into financial services with view to providing customers with a total virtual experience in the digital-mobile space. These companies have built dynamic client platforms that dominate market share; their software and technology are orders of magnitude more sophisticated than banks’; and they are pioneers in the culture of high-speed innovation.

Banking as we know it is under assault. Financial institutions need to innovate – and fast – just to keep pace with ever-changing customer expectations in an increasingly fierce competitive landscape.

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III. Technological Challenges Facing Banks

The central challenge facing financial institutions is to develop easy-to-use, omni-channel remote banking. According to KPMG, mobile is already the largest banking channel for the majority of banks by volume of transactions, with adoption rates highest among millennials and in developing countries like China and India.[2] Banks like JP Morgan Chase and BNP Paribas have already reaped clear and significant financial rewards by developing and implementing transformational remote banking solutions.[3]

Spitch conducted live voting during CEO Alexey Popov’s presentation at BankInno 2016, and the votes reveal that 41 percent of banking executives want mobile solutions to provide continuous delivery so that time to market is minimized. Software will have to be fully synchronized across all channels with simultaneous delivery of products and services, so a customer can start a transaction on one device and finish it on another. User experience and interface design are also critical to remote banking. Any tractable solution or app has to be simple and delightful to use, with a modular architecture for easy updating and customization. All banking functions will have to be integrated with social networks, reservations and ticketing systems, and e-invoicing. And all of this will have to be secure, low cost, and user-friendly.

Already, image-based banking provides the ultimate customer convenience and reduces the cost of transactions by 95 percent. And though banks have been slow with social media, customers are now starting to instantly transfer small amounts among friends. What more, next-gen technologies like wearables and virtual reality will further enhance the remote banking experience. Meanwhile, customers will still expect physical proximity. KPMG does “not see mobile banking cannibalizing the branch network completely,” but envisions tellers and clients discussing sales around touchscreen and tablet computers in smaller, digitally-enabled branches.[4] Gallup Senior Consultant Anson Vuong concurs: “Given the number of touch points in banking, the challenge is in breaking silos and creating a sense of seamlessness through the integration of the digital, physical, and human interactions.”[5]

IV. Attractive Potential of Voice Technology for Banks

More than 50 percent of customers want remote self-service channels to keep the personal touch alive.[6] Effectively, clients want a fluid experience that marries the technical convenience of remote banking with the intimacy of human social behaviour. One of the most innovative ways to do this is to integrate voice technology into remote banking solutions. Human speech is the most natural way to control a device, especially one without a keyboard. Millennials today expect to use voice commands on their mobile devices and apps, because it is so intuitive for them. The past two years have seen major breakthroughs in speech technology, which is now poised to revolutionize how people do banking.

Targeted analytics. According to live voting conducted during Spitch’s BankInno 2016 presentation, 47 percent of banking executives want remote solutions to generate intelligent sales based on big data analytics. Speech technology can provide such targeted analytics to help banks engage with their customers and provide personalized marketing. This is about unlocking the vast amounts of unstructured data within audio content and translating this data into meaningful action – whether that is making predictions about a customer’s readiness to buy, putting that information at an agent’s fingertips, or learning more about a customer’s preferences. In addition to micro-scale product positioning and personalization, speech solutions can also provide macro-scale predictive analysis of sales trends.

Virtual customer support. Bank contact centres need to manage customer call volume in an accurate, fast, and pleasant way. Nearly half (47 percent) of banking executives in Spitch’s live poll said that the biggest ambition for automated call centre solutions was an interactive voice response system that recognizes the meaning of speech. Today’s speech solutions can resolve transactional problems on first contact, often in less than a minute. Semantic speech recognition technology can recognize not just what is said, but what is meant. Neural networks technology enables machines to detect individual pronunciations, dialects, and key words. Machines can scan archives of customer conversations and pick out the best responses, and then tailor these responses to the customer and situation at hand. In the medium-term, it is likely that voice technologies will coexist with live agents and text-based communication. Customers may speak into their phones or ask a question, and speech analytics will process their transaction or send a reply by text.

Voice biometrics. The biggest concern that customers have about mobile banking is security and fraud. Banking executives agree, with 40 percent in our live poll saying that biometric identification is the most attractive use of voice technology. Banks are starting to use voice verification as part of remote banking solutions to authenticate a user’s identity and speed up the login process and handle time. In other words: no more verbal passwords, annoying security questions, or sharing sensitive personal information over the phone. What more, voice biometrics in combination with conversation recording can legally be regarded as an electronic signature, which saves time, money – and paper.

Seamless mobile integration. Speech technologies are easily embedded into any front-end application, including for remote banking. JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo, among others, already use voice biometrics and voice control for mobile apps. These apps let customers do exactly what they want – which is to speak into their device to make inquiries, request transfers, or find a location.

V. Spitch: A Joint Effort to Develop Mobile-Integrated Speech Solutions

Spitch collaborates with integration partners to design mobile-integrated speech solutions that create a more secure, cost-effective, and personalized end-user experience. We are already working on a number of pilot projects and proofs of concept with retail and private banks.

We build our core solutions using the latest neural networks technology. Spitch CodyFI provides speech-to-text recognition via a decoding algorithm that calculates acoustic sequence probabilities in real-time based on vocabularies of 5-7 million words. Spitch VeryFI provides biometric proof of a customer’s identity using advanced acoustic models that discriminate between the phonetic patterns of individual speakers. And Spitch SignyFI uses machine learning algorithms to predict the meaning of dialogue, retrieve information, and capture personalized and general metrics.

At Spitch, we know that there are a number of ways to develop remote banking solutions. Live voting from our BankInno 2016 presentation shows that 42 percent of executives plan to engage their own R&D teams to develop mobile platforms in-house. 33 percent are looking to acquire ambitious tech startups, while only 17 percent plan to use IT vendors. Whichever modality a bank chooses, the fact remains that speech analytics and machine learning are sophisticated technologies that will likely demand collaboration with external developers. Spitch stands ready to work with companies to develop mobile-integrated speech solutions that offer targeted analytics, virtual customer support, and voice biometrics, so they may effectively compete in the digital-mobile space.

We are always looking to work with leading enterprises and new partners to incorporate their needs into our product development cycle. Reach us at or

[1] The State of Banking in 2015, Gallup (2015). Available at:

[2] Mobile Banking 2015: Global Trends and their Impact on Banks, KPMG and USB Evidence Lab (2015). Available at:

[3] Mobile Banking 2015: Global Trends and their Impact on Banks, KPMG and USB Evidence Lab (2015).

[4] Mobile Banking 2015: Global Trends and their Impact on Banks, KPMG and USB Evidence Lab (2015).

[5] The State of Banking in 2015, Gallup (2015).

[6] Mobile Banking 2015: Global Trends and their Impact on Banks, KPMG and USB Evidence Lab (2015).

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