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Smart speakers, have rapidly captured the attention of many households eager to enter a new world of conversational commerce. Payments by voice are gaining traction as the following article discusses the results of a recent survey that looked at the role of smart speakers as an emerging sales channel.

Speculative retailers have set their sights on voice shopping, but paying by voice could have broader implications. An Ovum and ACI Worldwide survey of billing organizations across the globe, conducted in January 2018, delved into the future of payments.

Mobile optimization was the biggest current priority among the organizations surveyed. Nearly half (49%) had mobile “e-billing” in development, and 20% wanted to offer it in the future. As far as specific mobile enhancements, the most popular was payments from a mobile-optimized website, with 46% offering that capability and 18% planning to.

One of the lower priority initiatives was enabling payments from connected devices like smart-home assistants, yet it was still cited by 28% of executives. Meanwhile, nearly one in five wanted to offer such payments in the future.

The ACI Worldwide and Ovum study specifically looked at consumer payment options provided by businesses, but voice payments also have the potential to include peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions. Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported that in addition to Amazon working on gas station payments via in-car Alexa devices, the retailer also has a feature in development where consumers can tell Alexa to pay a friend or family member. The latter would compete with services like PayPal’s Venmo or even Zelle, which is offered by banks but is less buzzy.

Voice is one part of a multi-modal commerce strategy that retailers must address in order to be competitive. Consumers are realizing that conversational commerce is fast and convenient, and in many cases, they can be multi-tasking—say making dinner while ordering and paying for household items from a voice device-accessible merchant. While the train has not left the station, merchants still have time to climb aboard as voice commerce is here to stay.

Overview by Raymond Pucci, Associate Director, Research Services at Mercator Advisory Group

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