31 March 2015


Matthew Palmer - FIS

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Banking on voice biometrics?

28 November 2013  |  3344 views  |  0

Biometric identification isn’t a new phenomenon, just ask the Babylonians. They inked their contracts with a fingerprint. Perhaps the scanning technology wasn’t invented yet but the basic premise was there. Even MI6 and the CIA have tapped into fingerprint identification, face recognition and retina scanning. It all sounds very Hollywood, like a scene out of Minority Report but it’s becoming increasingly more common.

Surprisingly though, biometrics has yet to hit mainstream in financial services. For years we’ve been promised fingerprint authentication as a replacement to the traditional PIN, but no dice. Could the emergence of voice biometrics offer a new, more reliable and secure alternative? There are over 100 identifiable elements in a digital voiceprint – even identical twins can be told apart. Voice recognition varies with each unique phrase so using a passphrase with voice biometrics provides two-factor authentication that is much harder to steal or spoof. The end result - you have the advantages of both biometrics and passwords.

There is no doubt that the benefits of voice biometrics are comprehensive but is it feasible? Can it be supported across the financial services industry? The answer to both questions is yes. Companies believe they can identify people accurately more than 97% of the time. Contingency plans can be built into systems with pre-recorded voiceprints. There are already highly successful examples of this in the market – just look at Barclays or ANZ.

Voice biometrics has the potential to greatly improve speed, ease of use and security for customers. Not having to remember PIN numbers is an immediate tangible benefit. It is early days, but keep an eye out – people will be making a lot of noise about voice in 2014. The infrastructure and hardware already exists which could make it the sophisticated authentication method banks have been looking for.


TagsMobile & onlineRetail banking

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