Voice-enabled IoT devices found their way into millions of American homes over the last decade. We add more of these devices to our lives every day; in fact, experts project we’ll have up to 8 billion digital assistants by the year 2023.
Smart devices like Alexa and Google Home will take on more roles as time progresses. One of the most exciting innovations in voice-enabled smart technology, though, is their potential application for eCommerce.
A recent press release saw Visa announce a new partnership with Sirius XM. Together, the two brands hope to develop a prototype system allowing in-car purchases using voice-enabled technology. As Visa explains, the tool relies on a digital wallet integrated into the vehicle’s dashboard. Eventually, this technology may enable drivers to purchase items “with simple voice commands – even if they left their wallets and phones at home.”
Securing these voice-enabled transactions is a top priority for Visa. In response, the new system will employ tokenized payments, much like an EMV chip card, plus Visa sensory branding to ensure complete and secure transactions.
Contemporary consumers expect a more personalized experience, and voice-enabled commerce presents an opportunity to make it happen. Soon, consumers may be able to shop while doing chores around the house or while stuck in traffic, all through voice-assisted technology. Of course, while this could be a tremendous opportunity for online merchants, it presents new challenges, too.
Criminal Threats Facing Voice-Enabled Commerce
That smart speaker on your kitchen counter or coffee table has better hearing than you realize. Back in 2016, researchers demonstrated that speech-recognition AI systems like Siri and Alexa are capable of processing signals inaudible to humans. The researchers hid voice commands in online videos and played them back to a smart speaker. In response, the device picked up on these commands and took various actions based on them.
While the experiment was benign, a bad actor could just as easily manipulate this vulnerability. Imagine watching a YouTube video with your smart speaker in the background, only for the video to instruct your device to take actions that compromise your security. It seems like science fiction, but could very well happen.
Fraudsters are opportunistic; they will take advantage of any means to cheat the system. With that in mind, think about the “deep fake” technology used to create convincing impersonations of celebrities and world leaders. It’s not a stretch to believe fraudsters could use similar technology to impersonate cardholders and engage in voice-enabled fraud.
As this technology becomes commonplace, we’re almost certain to see fraudsters leverage it to develop new tactics.
Not every threat is explicitly criminal in nature. Friendly fraud, for instance, is a post-transactional threat by which a seemingly-legitimate buyer requests a chargeback without a valid reason. There are countless potential friendly fraud triggers. With voice-enabled commerce, though, these are likely to be some of the most common issues to arise:
- Buyer’s Remorse: Ease of purchasing could be too tempting for some. A customer who regrets a purchase may file a chargeback to “undo” it.
- Family Fraud: A relative of the cardholder makes a purchase with a voice-enabled device, and the cardholder files a chargeback in response.
- Accidental Orders: A customer could claim the smart speaker picked up on a conversation and made a purchase without their consent.
Then there’s voice data itself; it’s unclear how this data will be managed, stored, and recalled. Legislation like the CCPA here in the US, or PSD2 in Europe, creates strict guidelines for consumer data. However, voice data is a new frontier, so it’s hard to say with certainty how the standards will impact business practices.
Voice-enabled commerce will expand as a major customer channel in the next decade. You can ensure you’re on solid footing for this upheaval, though, by taking steps now to prepare for this eventuality. Optimizing pages for voice search, for instance, should be a priority. Customers already engage in voice-enabled search, so developing your SEO strategy to account for voice search is critical. Other best practices include:
- Knowing Your Customer: Developing a typical user profile can help you flag suspicious activity.
- Develop Omnichannel Practices: Eliminate barriers between channels (within reason) where possible.
- Foster Trust: Be transparent with customers about your security and data protocols.
- Seek Help: If you’re not confident you can handle key practices on your own, it’s best to seek outside expertise.
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