Bank by Voice: Introducing the U.S. Bank Smart Assistant

A unique “voice-forward” approach will give customers a simplified, intuitive way to bank unlike any other – just ask

6-min read

We’re making it easier than ever to bank and manage your accounts – simply by using your voice with the U.S. Bank Mobile App.

Imagine you’re at a restaurant and want to split the cost of the bill. Your friend grabs the tab, and you grab your phone. To pay back your friend (using Zelle®), you simply open the U.S. Bank Mobile App, tap the microphone, and say, “Send Shannon Johnson $20.” Just confirm – and like that, you’re done. 

No need to search through multiple screens to find what you want to do. No need to tap through a multi-step process. Just ask.

Welcome to banking by voice, with the new U.S. Bank Smart Assistant. Our employees loved it during our internal pilot, and we know you will too. We’re excited to start releasing it to customers in the coming days as part of the U.S. Bank Mobile App. 

A voice-first approach

Voice technology is becoming increasingly common in everyday life, and that’s why the U.S. Bank Smart Assistant was created with a unique “voice-first” design – which progresses beyond the typical chatbot interaction to immerse U.S. Bank customers in an experience of speech response, animation, visualization, and sonic design. The result is a new type of experience for customers unlike anything else in the market for financial smart assistants. 

“What really stands out when you use the Smart Assistant is that it’s designed with our customers in mind. The experience feels like having a conversation – it’s similar to how a customer would interact with their banker when looking for information or help managing their account,” said Ankit Bhatt, senior vice president and chief digital officer for consumer. “This is the next iteration beyond the text chatbot – it’s where voice technology is headed and it’s what customers want. They don’t want to have to navigate a menu or know the right keywords to find and do what they need. It’s much easier to just ask questions using common language.” 

And that’s what makes the U.S. Bank Smart Assistant so amazing – it uses natural language processing to understand how people really talk, even recognizing intent through casual language: “So I owe Jill $40 for lunch. I need to pay her back” will help you just the same way as, “Send Jill $40 for lunch.” If you don’t know what a feature is called or where to look, just ask.

It will give you personalized responses, based on your data and what you’ve named things, like how it will understand the nicknames you give your accounts.

It is able to recognize the context of a conversation, to the point where you can even make updates: “Oh, instead send Jim $75 and make it for Friday.” 

It even grasps the meaning across a broad to a narrow request: “I need to transfer money” vs. “I want to transfer $500 from my primary checking to my vacation fund next Monday.”

“The customer experience drove how we built the Smart Assistant,” Bhatt said. “We wanted to leverage voice technology to take our experience to the next level.”

That approach is reflected down to the very text and visuals you see on your screen. The microphone is dominant, the keyboard secondary. And that’s for good reason: Spoken words create a richer data set than tapping, which in turn enables far more learning and greater personalization. As technology advancements continue to emphasize conversational AI, U.S. Bank is positioning itself as a leader in the space.

Of course, you don’t have to talk; you can text with the Smart Assistant too – particularly helpful in moments where you may be in a public space and want privacy. It was designed with this intuitive experience: If spoken to, the Smart Assistant will offer a speech response. If you type a request, or navigate via touch, the Assistant will respond only with readable text and visuals. 

Fast and easy to use

The U.S. Bank Smart Assistant supports many complex tasks just by using your voice: 

  • Zelle: Sending money is as simple as tapping the microphone and telling the Smart Assistant to do so. Just say yes to confirm, and you’re done.
  • Transfers: No need to remember account numbers. You can tell the Smart Assistant things like, “Transfer $100 to my vacation fund from my personal checking” – and it will recognize the account nicknames you’ve created.  You can even make updates to the accounts, amount, or date with your voice, without starting over.
  • Upcoming bills: Ask the Smart Assistant questions like, “What bills are due this week?” and it will search your recurring payments and alerts to give you an answer.
  • Spend history and enriched transactions: You can ask questions like, “How much did I spend on Starbucks last month?” and the Smart Assistant will deliver your personalized results across all your accounts.
  • Other features like checking your card status, locking/unlocking your card, checking your balance and, as mentioned, finding account and routing numbers are as simple as asking. No need to navigate to the right screen to find them.

And the convenience doesn’t stop there. The Smart Assistant navigates you to where you can complete many other tasks. Here are just a few:

Informational

  • Reviewing Payments & Deposit Activity
  • View & Redeem Rewards
  • Finding the nearest ATM or Branch
  • Accessing Account Statements

Transactional

  • Paying Bills
  • Depositing a Check
  • Enrolling with Zelle

Servicing

  • Updating your contact information
  • Adding Authorized Users
  • Managing your card
  • Getting COVID-19 Assistance
  • Setting Travel Notifications

When a customer needs human help, the Smart Assistant offers to connect them to a banker via live chat or phone – embedded within the experience to help resolve their issue.

And that’s just to start. New features will be added regularly, which means the more you use it, the more it will learn, get smarter, and create new experiences. The Smart Assistant is just one of many new features in the U.S. Bank Mobile App updated every month.

Related content

Accessibility: U.S. Bank's commitment to accessibility is evident in the Smart Assistant experience. As an employee who is blind shared in her personal story, early testing with vision-impaired users helped create the experience, and great care has been taken to minimize cognitive burden with the Smart Assistant. Besides, what could be easier than asking for exactly what you want, in your own words? Our accessibility team’s work is one of the components directly correlated to U.S. Bank being named to the DiversityInc “Top Companies for People with Disabilities” list at No. 13.

Recognition: The U.S. Bank Smart Assistant is just the latest in a string of impressive features added to the U.S. Bank Mobile App since it debuted in Spring 2019. And it has garnered impressive recognition. The latest mobile banking industry report from Dynatrace showed the U.S. Bank Mobile App’s score rose more than any other bank, and it’s now ranked No. 3 overall – including No. 2 in both Ease of Use and Privacy and Security. Additionally, Javelin Strategy & Research ranks the U.S. Bank Mobile App as a Leader in Ease of Use, Customer Service, and Account Opening functionality in its latest annual Mobile Banking Scorecard. That comes after also winning Best Customer Experience in the Finovate Awards, and Ankit Bhatt, who led the mobile app team, being named 2019 Digital Banker of the Year by American Banker.

Media contact

Antoine J. LaFromboise, U.S. Bank
antoine.lafromboise@usbank.com, 612.303.0793