Alexa skill to provide customers with voice-activated account information
Little Rock, Ark. – Southern Bancorp Bank (“Southern”) today announced the launch of “Southern Bancorp Voice Banking for Amazon Alexa,” as a free, optional feature for customers. Developed by Arkansas-based Smiley Technologies, Inc. (STI), a financial data products developer and core services provider, the Alexa Skill allows Southern customers to access key bank information hands-free through the world’s largest virtual assistant network.
“Our new Alexa Skill does more than provide customers with a new way to engage with our bank,” said Darrin Williams, Southern Bancorp, Inc. CEO. “It signals our commitment to trying new things, especially in the realm of customer engagement. Southern is investing heavily in new and emerging technologies that make banking easier, more affordable, and meets customers where they want to be, not just where we want to serve them. Having a flexible and innovative technology partner like STI allows us to experiment with new offerings like the Alexa app that do just that.”
Alexa is a cloud-based voice service from Amazon, and Alexa is the brain behind Amazon Echo and other Alexa-enabled devices. Using Alexa is as simple as asking a question—just ask, and Alexa will respond instantly. For Southern Bancorp customers who have enabled the skill, they will simply say, “Alexa, open Southern Bancorp” to access a select set of commands.
Once activated, Southern’s customers can check balances, identify recent transactions and deposits, transfer money within connected accounts, and even learn about the impact they are having as a customer of a mission-driven financial institution. External transfers or bill payments are currently not part of the feature.
The Alexa Skill development is a result of Southern’s long partnership with community bank-focused core provider, Smiley Technologies, Inc. (STI). Having worked closely together since the technology company’s inception, both companies share a commitment to using innovative methods to reach customers.
“Few community banks have ventured into the world of virtual assistants and the Internet of Things,” said Elizabeth Glasbrenner, Smiley Technologies, Inc. CEO. “As with any uncharted product territory, it takes a willingness to experiment and try new things in order to see what customers will adopt, which is one of the many things that sets us apart from some of the larger core service providers.”
Southern Bancorp Voice Banking for Amazon Alexa is available now through the Amazon Skills Store (www.amazon.com/alexaskills).
About Southern Bancorp
Southern Bancorp, Inc., a bank holding company; Southern Bancorp Community Partners, a 501(c)(3) development finance and lending organization; and Southern Bancorp Bank, one of America’s largest rural development banks; were founded in 1986 by a group of business, political and philanthropic leaders who were concerned about the economic decline of rural Arkansas. All three entities are U.S. Treasury certified Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) collectively known as “Southern.” With $1.4 billion in assets, 65,000 customers and 48 locations in Arkansas and Mississippi, Southern invests in people and businesses in rural communities; empowers them to improve their lives; and helps them transform their communities. Southern is a Certified B Corp, Benefit Corporation, and proud member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values. Learn more about Southern on the web at www.banksouthern.com & www.southernpartners.org.
About Smiley Technologies, Inc.
Smiley Technologies, Inc. (STI), is a provider of secure, innovative core banking solutions (SIBankingTM ) for community banks and aspires to be the financial technology partner of choice within this industry. STI’s mission is to be a trusted voice promoting a valued strategic partnership with its client banks – accomplishing this mission by coupling its innovative solutions and network security with exceptional customer service. Since inception in 2002, the company’s practices and traditions follow themes that were built upon the idea that banking and innovation can – and should – work together seamlessly. Learn more at www.sibanking.com.