V-Commerce:

Using your voice might be the latest way to checkout

Written by Rebekah Moss 11 Jun 2020 - 5 Minutes reading time

V-commerce, better known as simply using your voice to shop, was on the rise long before pandemics caused us all to assess just how contactless we need to be. However, the convenience of smart assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home Hubs might just be the accreditation that voice commerce needs, to be propelled just that bit further.

In taking a look at both voice biometrics and voice commerce, we’ll take a closer look into the role your voice can hold in both brick and mortar and online commerce.

Using Smart Devices to Shop:

With a marked increase in smart speaker adoption by 14% in 2019, when compared to 2018; over one billion voice searches are performed each month. With this number expecting to increase to nearly half of all search matter by next year - how many of these searches convert into actions such as making a purchase?

Authenticating Purchases:

Whilst the foothold v-commerce currently holds is questionable, voice biometrics is a movement that has gained more traction in the last 3 months with a call for touchless systems. Where touch ID and face ID used to suffice; this very system has been interrupted with face coverings and has resulted in scenarios where the contactless limit has increased in order to fulfil payments. With this increased rationality for voice biometrics, the argument for the general integration of v-commerce grows too. To paraphrase Todd Mozer, CEO and chairman of voice technology firm Sensory, the utilisation of smart technology like smart speakers and the more recent population of smart speaker enabled devices such as televisions, has allowed for an increasing comfortability of voice technology and the use of AI beyond the conversion of data.

Outside of the pandemic, the global voice biometrics industry is inspected to grow at a rate of 23.7% between 2019 and 2026.

Despite demand, the journey isn’t going to be frictionless.

The mass adoption of v-commerce differs from the integration of a new payment method and instead, friction within the sector arguably has to be dispelled with a transition that calls for integrations into user interfaces instead.

The trust around the v-commerce market and variation of use cases is still so variable that v-commerce arguably needs to establish more of a footing before it can develop a way forward.

However, that roadmap isn’t far off. With the digital voice assistant market set to increase by 433% by 2023 - increasing from the 1.5 billion devices in circulation today - the way forward is only going to become clearer.

Where V-Commerce currently stands:

What we’ve seen as today’s version of actionable moves made via Amazon’s and Google’s devices are undoubtedly set to transcend.

With smart speaker actions and interactions already manageable via their linked devices, the demand for truly contactless methods of commerce is growing.

The next step surrounding v-commerce seeks to counter the trust issues surrounding AI voice assistance.

This change is already in motion, with the number of v-commerce shoppers increasing in the UK from 9% in 2018 to 60% in 2019.

Whilst this change could come from changes in payment regulations, it could also stem from the upcoming generation of shoppers that place more trust in technology.

Currently, v-commerce remains underdeveloped, but to reiterate, the one outcome of this pandemic is the prioritisation of consumer demand - and meeting this securely.

Whilst voice authentication was included as an inherence element of SCA, the controversy surrounding SCA itself means the notion of comfortability holds little security for businesses and shoppers alike.

Whilst many have probably only encountered voice biometrics as a multi-element process, or to authenticate a payment directly with their bank, its failure to be adopted on a mass scale as a security measure means consumers are placing their trust in the brands they shop with instead.

As such, voice commerce becomes a figurative and literal method of shopping blindly.

Arguably, increasing clarification about payment standards and issuer protection could increase the amount of trust a consumer places in v-commerce shopping methods. As it stands, reports continue to leak about our devices listening to us, with 72% of UK consumers remaining hesitant about disclosing their financial details online; 52% of which echoing this concern about the privacy surrounding voice assistants.

Industry stance on V-Commerce:

  • An unusual benefactor of v-commerce is the hospitality industry.

Whilst the industry has taken a significant hit during the coronavirus pandemic, 28% of consumers surveyed by Artefact UK said that they’d use v-commerce to book travel accommodations.

Additionally, fast-food chains like KFC had already begun testing the fulfilment of their quick-service restaurant models by adopting Amazon’s Alexa assistant with the addition of their own voiceprint.

Instead of allowing their customers to just order their ‘usual’, KFC’s voiceprint is being developed to allow customers to access a more interactive service.

  • American Express integrated with Amazon Alexa to provide limited banking facilities to its customers. With this integration, AMEX’s customers can inquire about their account balances, as well as pay balances using voice biometrics.

  • Amazon - who has moved into the brick and mortar retail market using remote payment methods - utilises its echo assistant to authenticate purchases made from a customer’s Amazon account.

  • Apple and Google enable voice search in some of their e-commerce applications.

  • Mastercard’s Sonic Brand: The audible verification of a payment transaction from Mastercard is set to one day reflect what Mastercard vice-chairman Ann Cairns claims to be v-commerce’s big future via voice assistants.

The sound itself is a nod to all sonic brands, that signify a movement in non-visual actions in commerce. Where e-commerce and the point of sale will redirect us to a landing page or visual confirmation of payment, customers will now be listening for a successful transaction.

We’re yet to define how far v-commerce will evolve and whether it will hold the role of host or authenticator in commerce.

However, it is certain that the addition of voice technology is being heard in the considerations being made towards the future of commerce.

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