Some western customers of Charles Schwab & Co. can now use a voice-response system to buy or sell mutual funds.
The telephone service is available in California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado, and will be expanded nationwide early next year, Schwab officials said.
Technology from Menlo Park, Calif.-based Nuance Communications is designed to recognize a range of word pronunciations, including common variations on the names of 1,300 mutual funds.
Next year Schwab expects to let customers trade stocks using the service.
Schwab introduced voice technology for clients in July 1996 with VoiceBroker, a quotation service. It recognizes more than 13,000 security names and handles nearly one million calls, or 90% of retail quote queries, each month.