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Will the contract now be concluded by voice?

Will the contract now be concluded by voice?


For Germans, interacting with voice assistants is increasingly becoming the norm. However, there was previously one hurdle to overcome when completing orders and concluding contracts. Google is apparently working on a solution to this problem.

As shown in a 2019 Postbank study[1], the use of voice assistants in Germany is increasing. Roughly a third of Germans are now communicating with Siri, Alexa, or the Google Assistant on demand. The systems remind users of upcoming appointments, provide the current weather report, or guide you to a destination right on the smartphone or via "smart speakers." It works in every vehicle thanks to the new "Echo Auto."

Changing input methods was previously unavoidable

Using what are known as skills and actions, many companies offer customers the option to place an order directly via voice input. However, this previously did not work without having to change input methods. Seamlessly purchasing groceries or concluding a contract immediately via voice recognition are not possible at the moment. Even Amazon—which is otherwise less cautious when it comes to automating orders—asks the user to visually confirm the customer's intention. To ensure that the customer actually wishes to receive the product, the assistants request a confirmation via a finger tap or click of a mouse.

A classic change of input method: As experiences in digital commerce over the past decades continuously demonstrate, any step that a user must actively take reduces the chances of a checked-out shopping cart or completed transaction.

Voice Match by Google

It is a problem that also affects Google itself. This is because the corporation is eager to make a bigger entry into digital commerce. At the end of May, there was news that Google was testing a way to approve transactions via voice. To do so, it uses a new function called "Voice Match"[2]. Similar to a fingerprint sensor, the user must train the system with their own voice one single time. Once the voice reference has been processed, then the authorization can be activated in the Google Assistant's settings. This function is equally available on smartphones and other devices.

Approval options are still limited during the test operation. The transactions are limited to a few purchases and maximum amounts. It may hardly remain that way over the long term. It currently remains to be seen when the function will leave the beta test. As with all novelties, this is also a case where Google is reluctant to show its hand.

Insurance policies signable by voice are drawing nearer

Advances in voice recognition technology are therefore becoming more interesting for insurance companies. Chatbots can currently make customer communication more efficient (routine requests, claims settlement). With the option to authenticate transactions as well, contract conclusion or policy extension via voice input is drawing nearer, at least from a technological standpoint.

 

[1] https://www.presseportal.de/pm/6586/4295010

[2] https://www.finextra.com/newsarticle/35902/google-tests-voice-confirmation-for-payments

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