Donation via Echo will soon be available in the UK, says Amazon Pay head

Karen Pepper, speaking at the IoF's Technology Group Conference today, says one unnamed charity is set to go ahead with fundraising through the 'Alexa' technology

Karen Pepper
Karen Pepper

UK charities are set to be able to receive donations from people giving voice commands to their Amazon Echo devices, the retailing giant has revealed.

Speaking at the Institute of Fundraising’s Technology Group Conference in central London this morning, Karen Pepper, the head of Amazon Pay in the UK, said the technology was on the verge of being rolled out in the UK and one charity would be able to receive donations from people through their Echo devices within a month.

The scheme, which will allow donors to say to their virtual personal assistant "Alexa, make a donation" and outline how much, was launched in the US in April, but this is the first indication of a timetable for the web giant to introduce it to the UK.

"We are super excited to work with you all," she said. "This is brand new for us here in the UK and we have one charity that will go live with the Alexa voice donations in the next month."

She declined to name the charity when asked by Third Sector.

Pepper also told delegates that the company was working with a number of other charities to allow them to receive donations through Echo too, but declined to say how many.

She said she wanted to encourage any other charities that were interested in participating to get in touch.

When asked by James Stickley, a fundraiser at Médecins Sans Frontières UK, who chaired the session, what she thought of the existing online payment landscape, she said charities needed to ensure they were offering as many different payment options as possible.

"The research we’ve seen is that not having enough payment types actually takes away from your conversion rates," Pepper said. "Having multiple payment types, having the one the customer wants or thinks is easiest or safest, is what’s going to get that conversion done.

"So it’s not about saying ‘get Amazon Pay and take something else off’. We would say you need to give customers choice, and then you can see from there what they choose and how that drives your donations."

The success of new Amazon functions, such as being able to order items to arrive within two hours, showed a desire among consumers and potential donors for personalisation and immediacy, said Pepper.

"It’s about making everything as simple for the consumer as possible," she said. "They want to forget about paying, click on the button and move on."

She said charities had to consider how to provide donors with the systems that would make the most sense for their donors and would have work out how to use the new technology in new and innovative ways.

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