Now hear this: Consumers’ interest in—and demand—smarter, faster ways to pay includes voice-activated options, such as access to interactive voice response (IVR) systems.
The continued growth of the global voice payment market is proof positive here. According to a report by Emergent Research, the size of that market reached the US $19.87 billion in 2020 and is projected to exhibit a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.8 percent through 2028. If this forecast is on target, the global voice payment market will be worth US $41.9 billion seven years from now—in essence, double its current size.
Findings of a study conducted by PYMNTS.com also underscore the ever-increasing popularity of voice-activated payments. Of nearly 3,000 consumers queried for the survey, 41.2 percent said they would be more likely to do business with a company that would allow them to use voice commands to handle their payments. More than one-third of participants in the study (39.4 percent) claimed they would be more likely to patronize a company that offered voice capabilities as a means of transferring money.
“The fact that such a significant percentage of consumers are ‘more likely to do business with those firms offering voice-controlled options signals that voice command capabilities are shaping up to be a competitive advantage,” according to the study.
What’s more, the data indicate, consumers in all generations, rather than in some generations, are “somewhat” or “much more” likely to do business with a firm that offers special voice-assistance features than with one that does not. Specifically, 64.4 percent of “bridge Millennials” in the 30- to 40-year-old age group reported that their inclination to patronize a given business increases “somewhat” or “much more” when the business allows them to manage payments or money through a voice-controlled system.
Nearly the same number of consumers (64.1 percent) said the same. So, too, did 41.8 percent of GenX consumers, 44.7 percent of GenZ consumers, and 14.2 percent of Baby Boomers and senior citizens.
Merchants and banks that embed voice-activated functionality into their processes will not only generate more business than those that do not; they may also have the power to encourage relatively well-off consumers to spend more. According to the report, more than 50 percent of study participants whose annual income exceeds $100,000 fall into this category, as do about 40 percent of consumers whose annual income is in the $50,000 to $100,000 range.
The 411 on IVR
What’s behind the voice-activated payments movement? According to the experts, it’s advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing—coupled with, of course, the convenience and safety of making payments by phone rather than in person. IVR systems, which allow business customers to make payments by credit card, check, or bank transfer using a landline or mobile phone, are a perfect fit here. The payment process is entirely automated, with no need for human operators.
Consumers dial directly into a merchant’s IVR system or call a toll-free telephone number to initiate payments. The system answers the call with a welcome message that provides instructions on proceeding with the payment process. Consumers begin and complete their payment by following a series of prompts, providing information to the system through voice recognition (for instance, verbally sharing bank account or credit card information), or using the touchtone keypad on their phone.