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NEFCU prepares Amazon Alexa skills, Google home capabilities

An Amazon Alexa. NEFCU would like to see

An Amazon Alexa. NEFCU would like to see it and similar devices make banking easier. Credit: AP

Westbury-based NEFCU plans to launch a service this year that will let its members check balances, hear transaction history, find a branch or ATM or get interest rates using Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa, two talking speaker devices.

The credit union is also looking to add features in the future such as transferring money and paying bills.

“In time, Alexa or Google Home will be as ubiquitous as a mobile app,” said Jojo Seva, chief information officer at NEFCU. “This is the future of artificial intelligence, and it’s only a matter of time until everyone is on board.”

Seva said he expects a small group of members to use the service immediately upon launch.

“Our next wave of members are going to include people who were born after the internet,” Seva said. “Technology has made it easier to compete with big banks.”

A few banks and credit unions around the country are also experimenting with the technology. For instance, McLean, Virginia-based Capital One’s Alexa “skill” — Amazon’s word for apps for the device — can tell users their checking balances and track transactions.

Locally, Bethpage Federal Credit Union said it is working on building products that include voice technology, but it wants to understand what part of the functionality is important to members before rolling out a service.

Bank technology consultant John W. Smith, chief executive at DBSI Inc. in Chandler, Arizona, said more banks and credit unions will follow the early adapters.

But Carmen F. Effron, the president of bank consulting firm C F Effron Co. in Weston, Connecticut, said artificial intelligence creates another opportunity for customers to be fraud victims “if we are not vigilant to the inherent risks as well as the rewards.”

NEFCU is using technology built by California-based Conversation One to launch the service. NEFCU said members will be protected against fraud by using personal identification numbers and other data security procedures.

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