Amazon Echo. (Photo:
Amazon Echo. (Photo:

Alexa will soon help users deal with utility bills by voice commands — asking for a reminder to pay the bill on time, checking to see how much the bill is for and asking how that compares to previous bills.

The new service comes through the Paymentus Instant Payment Network (IPN), offering benefits to consumers who misplace bills, are charged late fees or face service shut-offs. It also provides relief to utilities whose call centers field millions of calls a year inquiring about billing details, said Patrick Gauthier, vice president of Amazon Pay.

In a presentation at Money2020, Gauthier said voice will have a huge impact because individuals already know how to use it.

“We are on the cusp of a transformation that may be greater than the smartphone,” Gauthier observed.

The IPN enables any business that directly bills clients, such as utilities, insurance, healthcare, consumer finance, telecom, government or non-profit organizations, to instantly establish a new, powerful customer engagement channel with voice-enabled bill management.

“We have been working on the intersection of commerce and Alexa,” Gauthier said. “Our conviction is that one should not think about it as a separate channel, but Alexa should be thought of as a complement to what customers might do on a screen or mobile. From the customer standpoint there is no such thing as a channel.”

The Alexa services follow the Amazon method of starting with the customer and working backward to a solution that makes sense and removes friction. “If we can remove friction in connected commerce, we can provide a much richer environment to the consumer and make the purchase experience better,” Gauthier noted.

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