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Securing Conversational Commerce: How to Make your Interactions with Virtual Assistants Safer

January 30, 2018 Financial No Comments Email Email

If you want to spot a technology trend, watch the youngest member of your family. A few years back, my two-year old niece walked up to the television screen and touched it to turn it on, and this year my daughter read out her Christmas wish list to Alexa on an Amazon Echo thinking it was her direct line to Santa.

A recent survey of 3,000 Americans conducted by Mastercard and Mercator reveals that the new wave of virtual assistants has already started changing how we engage and interact in our lives. Two thirds of respondents are already using voice assistants or messenger/text-based chatbots, and one in five are using them for commerce purposes.

Voice-based and text-based agents are commonly used for basic informational tasks ranging from performing an internet search, to finding the nearest restaurant and giving simple commands such as making a phone call. But a growing number of people are using this interface for more complex tasks, with 21 percent of respondents using this technology to shop, pay bills, bank online or send money.

Given the variety of conversational agents, devices, commerce applications, and branded providers, the user experience and security features for payments could vary widely. Here are four ways you can secure your transactions with a digital assistant:

  1. Keep It Secure: Always be sure to be on a secure and trusted WiFi network. When entering personal data and card information using a digital assistant, being on a secure network will help keep you safe and protected. Same goes for a voice assistant – never give out personal data and card information where you may be overheard.
  2. Activate appropriate controls: Most voice assistants offer some level of purchase confirmation. Adding a voice phrase, a special payment code or two-factor authentication can help minimize mistakes and prevent fraud.
  3. Recognize Links and Emails: Never click on any suspicious links or open messages from unknown senders. Since you will be typing in personal information throughout your digital assistant experience, always be sure to recognize the links and addresses so that you stay on the trusted pages.
  4. Feel Covered: Use a card that provides Zero Liability. That way even if fraud does occur, you are never liable for the fraudulent charges.

Over time, conversational agents will be able to accept cards more easily by simplifying how users receive prompts, notifications and feedback. By sharing consumers’ expectations with natural language processing interfaces, we can help develop and modify standards for new technologies and deliver safer and more seamless user experiences.

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