‘Say hello to our little friend’: NAB, Westpac join Alexa


NAB and Westpac customers will soon be able to request details on their accounts hands-free via Alexa-enabled devices, the banks announced separately.

The voice-activated service, based in the cloud, establishes a secure connection between a smart device and an internet banking account, supporting customers’ requests for account balances, details on their latest deposits, and credit card statements.

Jonathan Davey, NAB executive general manager digital and innovation, said the service will allow customers tap into the “latest development in hands-free, voice-enabled experiences,” delivering a more personalised and tailored banking experience.

“This is NAB’s first step in providing ‘authorised information’ for customers, after we were the first major Australian bank to launch our Google Assistant app a few months ago, which focused on publicly available information,” he said.

Westpac chief executive, consumer bank, George Frazis, said its customers increasingly demand “a seamless banking experience that fits with their needs and complements their lifestyles.

“As more people adopt innovative voice-activated technologies in an increasingly mobile world, we are excited to be one of the leaders in this space providing secure, easy to use, cutting edge banking services for our customers,” said Frazis.

Westpac’s own Alexa-based service will also include a financial markets flash briefing update, allowing customers to include the financial news in their daily news updates.

While currently limited to providing information on accounts and general banking news, both banks predict the service will soon allow customers to pay bills, make funds transfers, and even purchase items via voice command.

Alexa taps into Amazon’s vast repository of data and allows third-party developers to program a unique set of voice-activated commands and responses, referred to as ‘skills’. 

Alexa is accessible on most smartphone and tablet devices, as well as Amazon’s dedicated Echo ‘smart speaker’ system (a direct challenger to Google Home and Apple’s HomePod), which is expected to be launched in Australia and New Zealand on 1 February, 2018.