HSBC to roll out voice and Touch ID to 15 million UK customers

HSBC to roll out voice and Touch ID to 15 million UK customers

Customers of HSBC and first direct in the UK will no longer need to reel off a list of passwords and security questions when calling or logging in to mobile banking as the bank prepares for the roll out of voice and fingerprint recognition.

First direct will begin to enrol customers for voice ID in the coming weeks and will be followed by HSBC by the summer. Touch ID is currently available on all Apple mobile devices for both HSBC and first direct.

The voice recognition software from Nuance Communications will be made available to all of the bank's 15 million customers in the UK. It works by cross-checking against over 100 unique identifiers and includes both behavioural features such as speed, cadence and pronunciation, and physical aspects including the shape of larynx, vocal tract and nasal passages.

For customers that choose to opt-in, they simply enrol their ‘voice print’ and are no longer required to remember or recite their current telephone security password letters or PIN.

The launch of biometric technology for HSBC and first direct is supported by new online consumer research findings from YouGov which reveal over a third (37%) of consumers agree traditional passwords have become an outdated security measure.

Tracy Garrad, chief executive of first direct, says: “The research shows Brits are increasingly demanding a simple alternative to traditional passwords. While technology has evolved at pace, the security measures we use in everyday life have not kept up with the rate of change. Our voices and fingerprints are unique, with physical and behavioural characteristics almost impossible to mimic. While this is the largest roll out of voice ID in the UK banking, other industries will soon follow our lead.”

Barclays Bank has introduced voice and fingerprint recognition for a select number of customers, while new challenger bank Atom says it will use face and voice biometrics as core credentials for customers logging in to banking apps.

Lloyds Banking Group, meanwhile, has been testing the use of heartbeats as an authentication mechanism, but accepts this is unlikely to see the light of day in the consumer market in the immediate future.

Lloyds has also been exploring the capabilities of the Amazon Echo in relation to its online banking service. The Echo — currently only available in the US — is a hands-free and voice-controlled device designed to fit seamlessly into the home. The Echo was selected for the exploration by Lloyds because it is "always connected, ready, and fast", says Lloyds' director of innovation and digital development Marc Lien, with capabilities delivered through Alexa, the cloud-based voice service supporting the device.

"Through a broad range of biometrics, including voice recognition, we are exploring potential new and convenient ways that our customers may want to bank with us in the future," says Lien. "Whilst we’re not opening up any voice recognition features to customers currently, it is an area that we continue to explore and will look to identify specific use cases for in the future.”

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