Giving charities a new voice with Amazon Pay

By Lucy Tugby 26/04/2018

Earlier this month, Amazon announced it was launching donations via Alexa in the US. The race is now on to bring voice-activated donations to UK charity donors, and WPNC is partnering with Amazon Pay to lead the way.

Some 50 billion voice searches worldwide are already carried out each month [source: MindMeld], and that’s estimated to hit a staggering 200 billion per month by 2020. The number of Alexa devices sold is already running at tens of millions, and that doesn’t factor in products offered by the likes of Google and Apple.

Voice is getting louder, it’s here to stay - and it will become the easier way to pay.

Little wonder, then, that the third sector is keen to talk about voice payments. Other donation options - from direct debits to street collections - will still have their place, but the ease and efficiency of giving will drive interest in voice.

WPNC has proven capabilities in donation technology, with established platforms Addition Enterprise helping out bigger organisations like NSPCC and The Royal British Legion, and goDonate supporting smaller charities.

Vicky Reeves, the agency’s MD of digital, believes helping the likes of Amazon Pay with voice payments was a natural next step. “We are constantly looking at payment innovation, reviewing and prototyping whether that’s for charities or ecommerce providers,” she says. “We want to know how people are paying: digital wallets, apps or something new?

“We recently started having conversations with major ecommerce companies about voice payments for charity. Amazon Pay is going for it in a big way, as it is with all sorts of voice products. Amazon wants Alexa to be everywhere.”

Karen Pepper, UK country manager at Amazon Pay, comments: “Our main aim at Amazon Pay is to allow consumers to pay or donate online simply and easily through their most trusted method on whatever device they may be using. We’re very excited to work with WPNC to make Amazon Pay available for charitable donations so consumers can easily donate to their charity of choice.”

A growing number of consumers are used to ordering groceries and other items through Alexa using stored payment details, and Amazon hopes voice will be a new channel of choice for donating.

“There are huge benefits for charities to promoting this new way of giving,” continues Vicky. “It removes friction for the donor. For example, if you are watching TV while cooking dinner and see an ad for a children’s charity, you can ask Alexa to donate for you there and then from your kitchen worktop. The donor’s details can be pre-populated on Amazon, which also speeds up the process. It’s a seamless experience and a great link between direct response advertising and the donation.”

The donation platform is in the final stages of testing. Vicky says: “Amazon is keen for us to become a partner, we look after online donations for a number of large charities. We’re one of the early adopters of integrating with Alexa and Amazon Pay, so we’re ahead of the curve compared to other agencies.” Meanwhile, WPNC is also working with Apple to enable voice donation through Siri and Apple Pay.

Like many innovations, voice donation may take some time to reach critical mass because a certain level of trust is required to persuade people to use it. But it’s an ideal way to appeal to a younger, tech-savvy donor base.

Vicky concludes: “Charities are always trying to engage with a more youthful audience. The rise in voice donations will be driven by the likes of Amazon, and the charities that work with it, raising awareness of the service and its ease of use.

“I believe voice will also be used for information and education, for example asking about how to self-check for breast cancer symptoms.”

Slowly but surely, it seems voice donation is set to move from being a quiet revolution to the loudest noise charity innovation has heard in years.

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