Amazon's Alexa may turn into the Venmo of voice later this year.
Daon, a Virginia company that develops biometric software for governments and banks, has created a way for financial institutions to let their customers send money to friends, a landlord or just about anyone else using Alexa. And, yes, it will prevent an annoying friend from yelling to your Echo speaker to send him cash.
The company, which helped Mastercard develop its "selfie pay," couldn't yet name any banks planning to use the technology, but it said it's under contract with several "major financial institutions who are interested in pursuing it as a new service." Daon said these banks have plans to release the new Alexa payment tech in the next nine to 18 months.
"Our banking and financial customers are keen to provide this for their consumers," Daon CEO Tom Grissen said in an interview.
The new Alexa capability shows the potential of the voice assistant becoming a more powerful agent for consumer banking. The tech could also help Amazon become a bigger player in the banking world, a new area it's expected to pursue. The world's largest online store is reportedly looking into partnering with a bank to provide a checking account service for its customers and already offers several branded credit cards.
A handful of banks and financial institutions -- including Capital One, Ally Bank and American Express -- already offer Alexa skills, the term Amazon calls its voice apps. Many of these skills let you pay off a credit card balance or fund a monthly auto loan payment. Ally's also allows customers to transfer money between their personal savings and checking accounts. But none of these top financial institutions so far allow their customers to send money to other people's accounts through Alexa.
Amazon declined to comment on this story.