Alexa's new skill: Voice-powered payments with Capital One

Starting today, Capital One customers can check their balance or even make a credit card payment just by asking Amazon's virtual assistant.

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The Amazon Echo smart speaker.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Add financial management to Alexa's resume.

Starting today, Amazon's increasingly popular virtual assistant will be able to sync with Capital One to help you keep track of your accounts. That means that if you're an Amazon Echo or Fire TV user, you'll be able to ask Alexa to check your account balance, tell you when your next credit card payment is due, or authorize her to go ahead and make a payment.

It's the first of Alexa's "Skills" -- essentially the apps of Amazon's voice-powered platform -- that enables users to interact with their financial accounts, according to Rob Pulciani, director of Amazon Alexa. "More and more voice experiences are coming," he added, "and it's only going to get better for our customers."

More Alexa devices are coming, too. The first orders for the portable, battery-powered Amazon Tap smart speaker are expected to ship out by the end of March. The same goes for the Amazon Echo Dot, a puck-like mini-Echo that you can plug into your existing audio setup to bring Alexa into play.

You'll need to provide Amazon with your Capital One login info in order to enable the Capital One Alexa Skill. You can set a four-digit personal key that Alexa will ask for anytime you try to access your account info.

Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

To sync Alexa up with your account, you'll need to enable the Capital One Skill in the Alexa app. This will require you to enter your Capital One username and password. Once you do, you'll be able to ask Alexa for your basic account information or to make a payment by telling her to "ask Capital One" to do those things. Examples of what you can ask for include:

  • "Alexa, ask Capital One for my credit card balance."
  • "Alexa, ask Capital One for recent transactions on my checking account."
  • "Alexa, ask Capital One when is my credit card payment due?"
  • "Alexa, ask Capital One to pay my credit card bill."

You do have the option of enabling a four-digit passcode, which Alexa will ask you for any time you try to access your account. That's the same layer of protection the mega-retailer offers for Alexa-powered Amazon purchases.

Of course, if someone overhears you using your passcode, then there isn't much that can stop them from snooping your account balance -- something Capital One explicitly acknowledges in the Skill's terms and conditions.

"It is possible that someone other than you could interact with Capital One via the Skill, or that someone could overhear you interacting with Capital One via the Skill and learn information about your Account(s)," says the fine print, before going on to suggest:

"Try using your 'inside voice.'"

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