ERICA SURPASSES 3 MILLION USERS: Bank of America’s (BofA) virtual assistant Erica officially surpassed 3 million total users late last week. Erica, which launched in May, is housed in the BofA app, and allows users to view and pay bills, transfer money between accounts, access card controls, send funds through Zelle, and more, using voice, onscreen prompts, or texting.
The assistant’s quick success points to user favorability for voice assistant functionality in banking.
- Erica is growing rapidly. Since launching in May, Erica has doubled its users every month, according to the bank. Though 3 million is still a relatively small total, it’s rapid growth for a new and emerging tool, especially because it’s a technology that customers could have been hesitant to trust out of familiarity. That figure also represents a respectable 12% of the bank’s 25 million total mobile banking users.
- And users are repeatedly using the virtual assistant. As of the end of August, Erica has “assisted” with over 8 million requests, indicating that the majority of users have likely returned to the service multiple times. And engagement will likely rise over time, too: each time a user interacts with Erica, the assistant learns more about the customer, enabling it to better tailor or personalize interactions over time, in turn creating a virtuous cycle that encourages ongoing usage.
These gains aren’t likely to dissipate any time soon, as artificial intelligence (AI)-based technology and assistants become more common. Virtual and voice assistants are becoming more mainstream — 26% of US consumers already own a voice-activated speaker like the Amazon Echo or Google Home, a figure that ticks up among younger customers, according to TSYS. And 60% of these device owners are interested in using their smart speakers for payments or purchases if they can. As users become more familiar with virtual assistants for both voice and chat, a wider population might become more likely to test them, which will lead to growing adoption in turn — Business Insider Intelligence expects 39% of US adults to engage with voice payments by 2023, up from 8% last year.
If firms can continue to effectively capitalize on growing adoption, the payoff can be vast. Developing personalized AI-based tools that are effective and palatable for consumers can be time-consuming, pricey, and challenging — BofA and Capital One, which offers a similar tool, are relatively early-to-market. But Erica’s adoption suggests at least initial customer demand for using virtual assistants to bank. To maintain and build on that interest and engagement as early curiosity wanes, banks should continue to expand on their AI capabilities, integrating services that users want like bill pay functionality and fraud protection. As customers engage with and come to rely on virtual assistants, that could lead to increased loyalty and provide a new channel through which to upsell consumers.