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Evolving mobile financial services

With the announcement that Lloyds TSB is adding the functionality to transfer funds via SMS through its mobile banking service, it’s starting to look like the industry may need to consider new authentication solutions that operate in the mobile space.  Juniper Research predicted that in five years time around 2 billion mobile users will have bought digital goods, such as electronic tickets, television shows, music, video and games using their mobile phones, we need to be confident that processes are fully prepared for this trend.  Interestingly this is a slow market growth given that mobile phone distribution today is more than twice the size of the Internet footprint – ( 1.5bn Internet users to around 4bn mobile phones in use). 

It is unlikely that the adoption of SMS payments becomes widespread, network delays being commonplace on these types of messages and mobile financial authentication using PINs could pose serious security threats; if a device is ever lost or stolen, fraudsters could potentially access masses of payment information through SMS logs. With 10,000 mobiles (,39024665,39289157,00.htm) left in London cabs each month, the potential threats of mobile PIN fraud would be realised.  

Payment and Financial Transactional authentication using a mobile phone is an easy way to reduce fraud and increase authorisation identity. That said authentication has to be intrinsically attached to each individual rather than each device to pre-empt any foreseeable concerns, especially given the experiences already seen with Chip and Pin theft and fraud. 

Since all mobile phones transmit voice, perhaps the use of voice signatures is a logical step in this evolution?  Voice signatures are not voice biometrics. They are complex devices that combine the use of voice biometrics with transactional history, trends and patterns to create a highly secure, unique, authorisation environment that always delivers two factor identity authentications.  Voice signatures are also natural. The security benefits of voice signatures also resolves the need to also work out how to get devices such as Chip-and-PIN card readers, or other devices commonly used for online and telephone banking into the mobile phone environment. Finally as a voice signature requires no software to operate, it can operate on any phone or handset already.   

This is the natural next step for banks in the fight against fraud, phishing and other threats to secure transactions.

The combination of voice signatures for example in the area of mobile payments not only makes the authentication process more secure, but also improves the experience of making payments for the end-user. Items can be purchased anywhere, and new market opportunities to monetise print and other media advertising are already starting to emerge.

Using a voice signature network both the parties to the transaction, the consumer and the financial institutions stand to immediately benefit: Banks are able to transfer the ‘signing’ responsibility of transactions and other financial processes instantly to their customers. Voice signatures replicate and may replace the physical signature card that is need to open any bank account today, and by using his voice signature the consumer wins by having complete control of his  or her own financial destiny, with the ability to accept for example credit limit or interest rate changes.

Perhaps now given the global turmoil that is affecting us all, the time is right to start to sign again? After all that’s exactly what we used to have to do, but technology changes have prevented that happening, perhaps we have now come full circle with the arrival of voice signatures, after all, when we had to sign before, in handwriting, it worked! 


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Nick Ogden

Nick Ogden

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17 Sep 2008



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