Amazon is working with brands across sectors to enable them to build skills on its Alexa platform. From daily news updates to smart-home integrations, banking services, food ordering and cab hailing, Alexa has been equipped with more than 10,000 skills, as the service expands in India. Alexa is no longer only adept at playing music. It is capable of facilitating transactions, too. For instance: IndusInd Bank has launched voice-based banking services through its AI-based Alexa Skill, \u2018IndusAssist\u2019, that enables customers to conduct financial and non-financial banking transactions on Amazon Echo and other Alexa-enabled devices using voice commands. This requires a one-time registration. \u201cAmazon\u2019s primary objective is to build a voice platform for curated knowledge \u2014 in the form of skills. These skills can be for generic consumer questions or could be custom-created by brands,\u201d informs Saurabh Uboweja, CEO, Brands of Desire, a management consulting firm. In the future, monetisation for Alexa will largely depend on voice advertising in the form of branded answers, in-skill purchases of premium content and products on its marketplace, he adds. Voice counts A user\u2019s journey on a voice platform is akin to that on a search platform like Google; only in the former\u2019s case, it is from search to skill to content. And there are plenty of opportunities to monetise in this journey, especially at the skill as well as content levels. Uboweja explains this with an example of Alexa\u2019s tie-up with P&G\u2019s laundry detergent brand Tide, internationally. \u201cWhile Amazon is not currently charging P&G for content, which may appear to be branded from the outside, it could do so in the future.\u201d For instance, if a consumer asks, \u201cAlexa, how do I get rid of a stain?\u201d, Alexa could respond by giving the option of using Tide Stain Remover while citing the product benefits. QSR chain KFC recently tied up with Alexa, via which users can simply place an order. While this is not an advertising tactic, it is an engagement opportunity for the brand. \u201cAs more and more people engage with the KFC Skill on virtual assistants like Alexa, it will give an impetus to online ordering,\u201d says Moksh Chopra, CMO, KFC India. Sreeraman Thiagarajan, co-founder, Agrahyah Technologies, says that brands in India are not looking at monetisation yet, but are looking to create \u201canother touchpoint and brand connect\u201d, such as trying to reduce the load on call centres and getting queries resolved. Where is the money? From content, voice assistants are veering towards commerce gradually, say experts. \u201cVoice assistants will see an evolution similar to social media players \u2014 from community to content and then commerce. That\u2019s why there is an uptick in Alexa\u2019s brand partnerships,\u201d says Sanchit Vir Gogia, chief analyst, founder and CEO, Greyhound Research. The next big evolution, he adds, will be ad revenues. Various business models are possible, based on the data Alexa collects \u2014 from sponsorship opportunities, where Alexa can indicate available deals, to advertisements through partner apps such as Amazon Music. \u201cThe revenue opportunities could be in the form of direct transaction-based margins, selling Amazon\u2019s own services and associating with partners,\u201d Gogia says, adding that the B2B segment could also be a lucrative opportunity for Amazon. The competition between Amazon and Google for voice-based intelligence is intensifying, with Google leading in the voice assistant space. But, crucial to their growth will be how these players address the rising privacy concerns among users.