Spanish Smart Assistant is increasing access and empowering clients

February 23, 2024
Young man holding a trombone and standing in front of a piano.
Andres Malfavon and his team in San Ysidro, California.

Asistente Inteligente de U.S. Bank has enabled Spanish-speaking clients to bank by voice in their preferred language.

Andres Malfavon has seen firsthand the power of being able to bank confidently in your own language.

As the branch manager in San Ysidro, California – just north of the Mexican border near Tijuana – many of the clients Malfavon serves speak Spanish as their preferred language. One of his favorite things he gets to do, Malfavon said, is show them how to use Asistente Inteligente, which broke new ground as America’s first Spanish-language voice assistant for banking.

With a simple tap of the microphone button, customers who set their language preference to Spanish in the U.S. Bank Mobile App can do dozens of things like check their balance and transactions, transfer and send money, track their credit score, lock and unlock their cards and so much more – just by talking to their smartphone in Spanish. They can also text instead of talk if they prefer.

“They are in awe,” Malfavon said. “That’s how I would describe their reaction. The idea of not needing to call and speak to a translator, but instead being able to open your phone, see everything in your own language, ask a question and – boom – get a response right away, it’s invaluable.”

Malfavon’s experience is far from unique. Since launching in April 2022, Asistente Inteligente has made it easier for Spanish-speaking clients all across America to do their banking digitally in their language of choice. In fact, more than half of the bank’s Spanish-preferring clients have already used it. That includes more than 45% in the past year alone.

screenshot of phone.
Asistene Inteligente home screen.

“It’s an amazing level of adoption,” said Richard Weeks, head of conversational experiences and capabilities at U.S. Bank. “But at the same time, it’s not entirely surprising to us considering the type of feedback we’ve been getting from clients – frankly, they love it. It’s extremely gratifying to know you’re having that kind of impact on someone’s financial wellbeing and independence.”

Like the experience Aura Rodriguez had with a client at her branch in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“I was helping a Spanish-speaking client who was not comfortable with technology,” Rodriguez said. “So we spent almost two hours together as I showed him digital features that could help him in the future. He was so relieved when I showed him Asistente Inteligente. He said, ‘Oh this will be my go-to feature.’ When I followed up a few weeks later, he right away told me how much it has helped him. And he loved our interaction so much that he’s already referred two Spanish-speaking customers to me. Educating and empowering our clients is my top priority and I love my career because I get to do that every single day.”

Getting it right

Asistente Inteligente is the bank’s Spanish language version of its best-in-class Smart Assistant in the U.S. Bank Mobile App. Smart Assistant is one of just two banking voice assistants awarded Corporate Insight’s highest rating of “Excellent,” and Asistente Inteligente launched with all the same features and functionality as the popular English language version.

Getting all that functionality to translate correctly – without errors in terminology, nuances, tone and nomenclature – is something the bank took great care to get right.

The project team of U.S. Bank experience designers, developers and software engineers included several native Spanish speakers. Then, Hispanic employees in the U.S. Bank Nosotros Latinos Business Resource Group helped test it, to ensure customers always experience the proper language usage in its proper context.

"The idea of not needing to call and speak to a translator, but instead being able to open your phone, see everything in your own language, ask a question and – boom – get a response right away, it’s invaluable.”

Andres Malfavon, U.S. Bank branch manager

“There are so many words that have more than one meaning, or that mean different things in different dialects,” Weeks said. “So it was really important to have a human element to the design, to ensure that when a client asks about their ‘balance,’ for instance, they get an answer about the amount of money in their account, not whether they’re about to fall over. There are limitations in the popular translation apps that we were able to solve for.”

Increasing access to empower clients

Asistente Inteligente was created to fill a need: increasing access to best-in-class financial services, via digital tools that make it easy and simple. It’s part of the bank’s broader effort to provide leading Spanish-language digital capabilities to Hispanic clients.

The U.S. Bank Mobile App has been available in Spanish for several years, along with Online Banking, ATMs and other ways to bank in Spanish. But adding a best-in-class voice assistant takes things to another level entirely, Malfavon says.

“It’s a gamechanger,” he said. “For our clients, it’s very empowering to be able to do things themselves. And that’s what we are striving for.”

Getting to be a part of that process – of educating and guiding clients in how to use these digital tools – is something that makes Malfavon and his team feel really good about coming to work every day.

“A lot of our conversations with clients are in Spanish. We are the closest U.S Bank branch to Mexico, and a lot of our clients actually cross the border to do their banking,” Malfavon said. “So it’s really important to us to show them our digital offerings, which can save them a trip and make things easy for them. When we have these interactions, it’s definitely a proud moment for our team. U.S. Bank is committed to these clients, and my team has a real sense of pride in knowing we have all these capabilities we can offer them.”

More stories

U.S. Bank Mobile App continues to win accolades, add new features

Ranked #1 by a consensus of benchmarking firms, the app just keeps getting better – and extending its lead.

Building excellent customer experiences – by design

A Q&A with Caleb Schmidt, head of Experience Design

Behavioral scientist works to help customers solve problems, reach goals

Yasmin Ghodse-Elahi focuses on ways U.S. Bank can help customers close the gap between intention and action

Media center

Press contact information, latest news and more

Learn more

Company facts, history, leadership and more

Work for U.S. Bank

Explore job opportunities based on your skills and location