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BBC Moneybox on Speech Recognition for banking

I appreciate the BBC Radio's weekly personal finance program 'Moneybox' may not be something that all of my blog readers are aware of, but this week it's been looking at speech recognition and biometrics as a way of authenticating customers.

The article on their website is here and the podcast/recording is here. The reason for the interest is that two of the big UK banks say they are following developments closely and that a major Australian insurer is running the authentication in production. The story is being pushed strongly the vendor concerned, VeCommerce.

I have to feel a little bit of cynicism here. Speech recognition (and it's close cousin, speech biometrics) have been 'the next big thing' more often than I can count. It's not that this isn't good technology (VeCommerce are impressive, as are VoiceVault and a number of others), but adoption has been slow. Part of this, I feel, is that there is a big gap between what the makers of the technology are interested in and what the users/buyers seem to want. This was highlighted in the last Cisco/Dimension Data Speech survey (see here for my blog post on it). The industry tends to talk very technically, while the buyers are much more interested in customer experience. I suspect until this gap narrows, speech biometrics will remain a nice, niche technology having a vigorous debate about how successful it is as an anti-fraud measure.

Fraud in call centres is a big problem (see past posts like "Security, Call Centres and Fraud" from January last year and "Abbey National - did an IVR survey lead to a customer getting locked out their account? "), but I think speech biometrics needs to be much closer to the customer experience before it becomes more widely used.

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