Emirates NBD, Dubai's biggest bank by assets, is integrating Amazon's digital voice assistant, Alexa, into its voice banking service in the UAE, as part of its efforts to accelerate digitalisation.
The introduction of the Alexa app, which is available on Apple's App Store and Google Play, will allow the lender's customers to securely inquire about account balances and statements and track card spending through any Alexa-enabled device using simple conversational language in either English or Arabic, Emirates NBD said on Tuesday.
Amazon, the world's largest online marketplace, launched its Echo line-up of smart speakers in the UAE on December 7.
“Emirates NBD has always been at the forefront of banking innovations and voice banking is another step in this direction as we utilise new technologies to enhance overall customer experiences,” said Suvo Sarkar, senior executive vice president and group head of retail banking and wealth management at Emirates NBD.
“As Amazon officially launches Alexa in the UAE, we are pleased to make available access to banking services on this platform, providing added convenience and flexibility to our customers."
Emirates NBD's launch of Alexa comes as banks and companies in the UAE integrate voice assistants into their services. The market's top two players, Apple's Siri and Google Assistant, have been around for years.
Several organisations have even developed their own virtual assistants tailored to their needs, including Dubai Municipality's Fares, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority's Rammas, Digital Dubai's Rashid and telecom operator Du's Blu.
The global voice assistant market is expected to hit $7.3 billion by 2025, growing at a compound annual rate of 24.32 per cent, according to a recent study from Market Research Future, with individual users as the top beneficiary by end-user metrics.
This will be driven by increasing instances of voice searches, rising adoption of smart homes and higher demand for self-service applications, the research revealed.
The launch is part of Emirates NBD's continued efforts to offer value-added banking services and utilises application programme interfaces built in line with established open banking standards, allowing the exchange of financial information between banks and third-party providers such as Amazon, while upholding strict security and privacy guidelines for users.
The customers must enable the Emirates NBD banking skill on their Alexa app to use the service, which will also let them listen to market briefings. Skills are app-like functions that can be added to an Echo device.
Echo devices that were launched in the UAE include the fourth-generation Echo, Echo Dots and Echo Shows 5, 8 and 10. Local Alexa Skills available include those from Emirates NBD, Expo 2020 Dubai, telecom operator Etisalat, Dewa and ride-hailing platform Careem.
Emirates NBD's net profit surged 61 per cent in the third quarter as impairment losses dropped and the UAE's economy continued to make a strong recovery from the pandemic-induced slowdown.