- The latest generation of virtual assistants is changing how people engage and interact, according to a recent survey of 3,000 U.S. consumers conducted by Mastercard and Mercator. Sixty-six percent of respondents are now using voice assistants or messenger/text-based chatbots.
- Voice- and text-based agents are mostly used for basic informational tasks that include searching the Internet, finding a restaurant and giving simple commands such as making a phone call. However a growing number, 21%, are using this technology to shop, pay bills, bank online or send money.
- In a further sign of conversational commerce’s increasing importance, 16% said they use voice or text agents to initiate payments for goods or services. These early adopters are moving beyond experimentation. The study suggests they are forming new purchasing habits, notably to order food or beverages, and to perform general e-commerce activities. In those two user groups, about 60% do transactions via natural language processing (NLP) weekly or more frequently.
Hands on or hands off, the new generation of virtual assistants is engaging American consumers in a big way — hands down.
A wide array of voice devices — now starring smart speakers, but also including smartphones and other computing platforms —and text-based chatbots on smartphones, tablets and computers, are getting consumers hooked on the ease of interactive communication, noted Mastercard and Mercator. The migration to conversational commerce is a natural.
This involves real products and services, which require the exchange of some form of currency. Because all this involves tangible value — and because bad actors are working overtime to compromise networks and transactions — security is a top concern.
Eventually these conversational agents will be start accepting payment cards, which will simplify the way users receive prompts, notifications and feedback. Understanding consumer expectations of NLP interfaces will lead to the development and modification of standards that will result in safer and more seamless user experiences of the new technologies.
Because of the multiplicity of conversational agents, devices, commerce applications and branded providers, the user experience of payments and their security features could vary widely. The study suggested four steps to improving the security of transactions while using a digital agent: Keep it secure by always using a secure and trusted Wi-Fi network; activate appropriate controls such as some level of purchase confirmation like a voice phrase, payment code or two-factor authentication; recognize links and emails by never clicking on suspicious links or open messages from unknown senders; feel covered by using a card that provides zero liability.
The ability to make payment card transactions securely and accurately will be a cornerstone of further growth. Stakeholders in the payments business need to show a strong interest in developing best practices that protect cardholders and encourage the responsible deployment of conversational commerce payment technologies. Consumers should feel that they are in control of their payments, but also that they have ongoing visibility into how they are making a purchase, regardless of the channel.
The newest generation of smart home assistants include screens as part of the standard design, according to VentureBeat. As a result, consumers are likely to use these devices increasingly for online shopping, in the same way that high-quality touch screens on smartphones gave rise to m-commerce. By 2020, 50% of consumer online searches will involve voice.