Samsung Electronics updated Bixby with support for voice-enabled payments, the Seoul-based tech giant said on Friday, adding that the new feature is available as of today. The change only affects the South Korean variant of the company’s artificial intelligence (AI) assistant, the only one that can currently accept voice commands. Samsung didn’t clarify whether the functionality is being introduced as a server-side switch, though that seems like a likely scenario. Customers of the KEB Hana Bank, Shinhan Bank, and Woori Bank are now able to transfer money and quickly access their financial information by simply uttering related voice commands to the Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S8 Plus. The feature is powered by Samsung Pay that’s natively integrated into Bixby, the Korean branch of the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) said. While money transfers can be initiated with a single voice command, they still require authentication via the iris scanner embedded into the Galaxy S8-series devices, and users also have to verify their identity after verbally requesting access to their financial information.
It’s understood that the feature will eventually support more banks in South Korea, especially those whose cards already work with Samsung Pay, though the largest phone maker in the world has yet to confirm that in an official capacity. It’s currently unclear whether support for voice-enabled mobile payments will eventually be available in more countries as the functionality relies on iris authentication that’s still in an experimental phase of development, at least in the context of being used with Samsung Pay. The company’s announcement came shortly after LG debuted LG Pay in the Far Eastern country and may have been a direct response to the introduction of that competing service.
While Samsung has been expanding the capabilities of Bixby in South Korea for over a month now, the voice-enabled component of its digital helper still isn’t available in any other territory, with recent reports indicating that Bixby Voice may miss its spring release window in the United States that Samsung initially promised. An update on the availability of the company’s AI assistant is expected to follow in the coming weeks.