"If someone were to steal your phone, and all they were asking for were your last 3 transactions, while that's not great from a security perspective, at least they're not stealing your money," Olynick says. "It's when you can say, 'Transfer money to this other account in the Cayman Islands' that people get really concerned."
He expects that Capital One will roll out stronger authentication as it introduces higher-stakes capabilities.
Just the beginning
At this point, the Capital One app is more of a novelty than a powerful personal finance tool, says JP Nicols, a banking technology consultant and director of NextBank.
"Is it a game-changer today? No," says Nicols. "But is it the kind of thing we look back on and go 'Huh, that was an interesting early move?' Maybe."
Carlisle and Gallagher's Olynick agrees.
"Just being able to check my balance is vaguely interesting, but more from a proof-of-concept perspective, more than just people are dying to be able to check their balance by speaking words into a device," Olynick says.
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He thinks this integration may be a step toward Capital One becoming a go-to payment method on Alexa-equipped devices when they eventually do become a platform for buying a variety of goods and services. Just as most mobile wallets have a default card that most transactions go to, Capital One may be looking to get a head start on becoming the "lead card" for Alexa-based transactions.
Olynick also notes that Uber, which announced not long ago the ability to call for a ride using Alexa, has a pre-existing relationship with Capital One that allows account holders to receive a discount on Uber services. That may be why the bank chose, or was chosen, to be the first financial institution on the platform.
More marketing value than immediate utility
At this stage, a small number of consumers will use the service, says Nicols. But as a marketing move, this announcement informs tech-savvy Capital One account holders that they won't have to wait around for the latest and greatest fin-tech features or go elsewhere to get them.
"This is as much of a statement to the market as anything else, that 'This is who we are. We're going to be a leader. We're going to be some of the people trying these technologies out earlier,'" Nicols says.
Nicols expects some competitors to follow suit and introduce their own Alexa app, but with so many banks struggling to field staples like a good mobile app, and 22% without any mobile app at all, he doesn't expect to see the majority jump on the Alexa bandwagon anytime soon.
"They don't even know who 'Alexa' is," he jokes. "So they're not there yet."
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