Last year Charles Schwab & Co. showed the financial services world that speech recognition technology was ready for prime time with its VoiceBroker application. Now a slew of financial services companies are following that lead with speech recognition applications.

Milwaukee-based M&I Data Services recently unveiled plans to add speech recognition capabilities to its telephone and PC home-banking bill pay service. Now about 140 banks that use the service will have to option of speech recognition, says Alfred S. Dominick, Jr., president of M&I's retail product delivery group. And like Schwab and American Express Travel Related Services, M&I Data will use Nuance Communications' speech recognition solution to drive the service. So might Integrion, rumored to be in the market for a similar solution. E-Trade is joining the pack, beta testing a voice recognition tool for investors in the third quarter, but using technology from Applied Language Technologies. The service should be available by year end, a spokesman says. Pricing for these ventures was not revealed, but ALTech officials say the technology can be deployed for between $2,500 and $5,000 per phone line, with a minimum of 24 lines.

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