Semafone wins “Most Disruptive” category in PYMNTS Voice Challenge with Amazon Alexa

Semafone, a provider of data security and compliance solutions for contact centres, has won the “Most Disruptive” category in the 2018 PYMNTS Voice Challenge with Amazon Alexa, a global contest for developing commerce solution prototypes using Amazon’s flagship virtual assistant.

Semafone’s winning “Phone Concierge” Alexa Skill with Voice Payments and Authenticate (ID&V) capabilities uses voice tokens to facilitate and secure phone-based card not present (CNP) transactions – such as those performed in enterprise contact centres – and authenticate incoming and outgoing calls.

At the core of Phone Concierge’s functionality is a time-based, single-use voice token wrapped up by Semafone’s “Three Little Words (3LW)” solution. The 3LW are securely generated based on merchant and user credentials by Semafone’s back-end services and importantly supplied across the voice channel, separating it from data channels and establishing a computer-telephony integration (CTI) connection.

Upon asking a merchant to register their payment request, customers can quickly and easily authorise a payment by supplying a single-use 3LW voice token to complete the transaction. This shifts the payment channel from a phone-based CNP transaction to a lower-risk, e-commerce transaction.

“Voice assistants like Amazon Alexa are becoming familiar fixtures in both the consumer and enterprise realms, where users already trust these devices with their most sensitive data,” said Ben Rafferty, global solutions director, Semafone. “It was only natural to see how we could use Alexa to secure phone-based CNP transactions, as fraud and data breaches continue to pose massive risks to merchants and customers alike. Semafone is delighted to receive this award for our Phone Concierge prototype, which will serve as a foundation for new opportunities across a range of commerce channels.”

Using 3LW, Phone Concierge also offers reciprocal caller authentication, validating a phone call between two entities – unknown to each other but known to Semafone’s back-end server. When a financial institution, service provider or bank calls, the customer prompts Alexa to ask Phone Concierge who is calling. Alexa provides 3LW to the customer, which the merchant submits for authentication through Semafone’s back-end services. This ensures that consumers can be confident that important phone calls are genuine, rather than worrying that the caller is a vishing scammer.

Karen Webster, CEO of, commented, “Semafone’s voice authentication prototype shows the power of voice to secure payments data and solve real problems for businesses – especially FIs. Well done, Semafone team, and our thanks for such an impressive showing. We can’t wait to see how this technology may inspire others to use it to create new use cases for making payments.”

To view a demo of Phone Concierge, visit