This week, Google rolled out a “confirm with Voice Match” payments feature into Google Assistant.
The payment method is available for both smart speakers and displays.
In fact, you can probably activate it on your Android or Apple smartphone right now.
How to Use Voice Match Payments
If you’d like to use Voice Match payments on a smartphone, start by opening the Home app. Just say “Hey Google” or touch and hold the Home button.
Then, tap your image in the upper, right-hand corner. Select assistant settings. Choose payments and toggle the “confirm with Voice Match” option.
The payment feature requires an existing credit card on file.
Voice Match for Authorization
In case it’s not clear, the point of Voice Match is to authorize payments from your on-file credit card.
If you currently use a credit card to make payments with your smartphone, then you already know that Google requires you to use some kind of authorization mechanism.
That’s to prevent anyone from picking up your phone and charging your card. You can authorize payments via a security code or a fingerprint.
And now you can authorize payments with your voice if you activate the Voice Match feature.
A Warning for Voice Match Users
When you go through the setup process for Voice Match, Google will give you a warning. A similar voice or recording can confirm purchases.
That’s right. If somebody records your voice and steals your smartphone, then that person can authorize payments on your behalf.
That’s a bit of a far-fetched scenario for most users. Still, it’s something you’ll want to keep in mind.
I’d say the odds are better than even money that we’ll see a feature like two-factor authorization for credit card payments in the near future.
Voice Match Payments Are Not Available for Everything
Voice Match payments aren’t available for all types of purchases. At least that’s the way it looks right now.
Google is fairly vague about what types of purchases qualify for Voice Match. That tells me there’s still some integration work in progress.
However, the company says that you can make in-app purchases via Google Play. So that’s a great way to test the feature on your mobile device.
Is V-Commerce Here?
Have we arrived at the voice-purchase phase of the Information Age? It’s doubtful.
According to an NPR/Edison Research study from 2017, just over half of those polled said they purchased something with a smart speaker. But that study hasn’t been repeated.
Why? Probably because there really isn’t that much interest in v-commerce. At least not yet.
A more recent study shows that 18% of smart speaker owners used their devices to order food. That’s not a high number at all.
Still, I’d be curious to see how many people did that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. That figure would be an outlier, though.
Then there’s the case of Walmart. The retail giant rolled out voice-shopping for groceries on Google Assistant. The strategy involved encouraging Walmart shoppers to reorder.
Since then, Walmart hasn’t made any public statements about voice-ordering. That’s a sign that it’s probably not getting as much use as the company had hoped.
Wrapping It Up
According to the latest NPR study, there are about 126 million smart speakers in 60 million U.S. homes. That’s quite a bit of opportunity for v-commerce.
With the introduction of Voice Match payments, Google is looking to the future. The company wants to get out in front of the competition when (and if) people make it a habit to buy products with smart speakers.
Is it a good move? Time will tell.