Jojo Seva knew virtual assistants and voice banking would be the future, but he wasn’t sure where to start when it came to offering that sort of functionality at his credit union.

“I was looking for how do I get this started? Who do I talk to? Who knows about this stuff outside of just turning lights on and off or changing music?” said Seva, chief information officer at Westbury, N.Y.-based Nassau Educators Federal Credit Union. “I called development firms, looking for a technology partner that knows what I’m talking about, knows more than me and has already experienced developing a platform.”

Jojo Seva, chief information officer at Nassau Educators Federal Credit Union, with a Google Home virtual assistant on his desk.
Jojo Seva, chief information officer at Nassau Educators FCU, with a Google Home virtual assistant on his desk.

When Seva discovered voice and chat bot vendor Conversation.One early this year, he knew he had found the partner he was looking for. Now, NEFCU is believed to be the first financial institution to launch on Google Home and the Google Assistant app.

Conversation.One’s three-step wizard will build Google Home actions, Alexa Skills, and Facebook Messenger bots and voice bots in a code-free environment for NEFCU. Members will be able to use all of these assistants when NEFCU launches the service in a few weeks, accompanied by a marketing campaign announcing the new offerings.

Members of the $2.7 billion-asset institution will be able to check account and loan balances, review recent transactions, locate branches and ATMs, connect to NEFCU’s contact center or get the most up-to-date loan rates by talking to their virtual assistant.

Conversation.One is a build- once-deploy-everywhere platform, and machine learning helps the company continuously improve conversational anthology. The product includes a premade template with relevant questions a user would ask when using a virtual assistant to do banking. Custom coding is available but not necessary for the platform to serve members.

Conversation.One has been working with financial institutions since the company’s inception more than four years ago and has dozens of FIs on its platform. Its first product was an AI-based platform to convert complex web applications into mobile. Work on developing its digital assistant products began in early 2016.

“Financial services was definitely a vertical we targeted,” said Rachel Batish, Conversation.One co-founder and chief revenue officer. “We understand the field and the requirements, and the challenges that many of the small and medium financial institutions have in terms of technology and innovation.”

Destination: Innovation
With voice banking ready to roll out, NEFCU’s goal now is to become “the most innovative credit union on Long Island,” said Seva.

While the CU has demonstrated video tellering at some of its branches already, it plans to invest in an omni-video banking platform where members can do video banking actions from home.

Seva is interested in looking at augmented reality next year. For instance, members could potentially take their mobile phone, point it at a house for sale and see information about the house without having to visit a Realtor website.

However, in the wake of the Equifax breach, Seva’s main focus is data security, as NEFCU continues to ramp up its technological advancements. Having worked on the IT side of the banking industry for almost 25 years, Seva predicts voice verification will be used commonly to identify members so data breaches don’t compromise members’ money.

The credit union is looking at member biometrics at every delivery channel to determine what kind of verification will protect their members the best.

For Conversation.One’s use of virtual assistants, there is an initial verification and then a pin that members will use for each technology.

“It’s not just about the cool tech,” Seva said. “It’s about security as well.”