UK banks ramp up account security with voice recognition tech

British banking and financial services multinational Barclays has announced that it is introducing voice recognition technology for all personal banking customers, so that they can easily identify and verify themselves and gain access to their accounts when using Barclays’ telephone banking service.

Voice recognition

“In order to register for Voice Security, customers must call Barclays telephone banking service, which will start the process of creating their voice print. Once Barclays has collected a sufficient voice print over the course of multiple phone calls (minimum 2), customers can opt to use voice security technology rather than a password to identify themselves,” the company explained.

“Each person’s voice is as unique as their fingerprint, made up of over 100 characteristics based on the physical configuration of the speaker’s mouth and throat. Therefore, when a customer calls up to use telephone banking, the technology will be able to identify them simply from the first few words that are spoken.”

“If a customer has forgotten their password, it takes two minutes on average to get through the alternative security measures. Voice Security will speed up this process significantly,” they concluded.

The company has first tested the technology in 2013, and they are confident the technology is ready for wider adoption.

According to the BBC, the technology is not easily to fool – even family members who sound the same can’t do it.

On the other hand, the voice recognition system allows for some changes in the customers’ voice, and will let in those whose voice has changed due to illness (sore throat, and such), age, or even gender reassignment. This obviously points to the system taking into consideration things like speech cadence.

“We can all relate to the frustration of forgetting a password at the crucial moment. Voice security can cut out that part of the call completely and, unlike a password, each person’s voice is as unique as a fingerprint,” commented Steven Cooper, CEO of Personal Banking at Barclays.

Voice security technology is also currently being tested by other UK banks, such as HSBC and First Direct, and is set to be offered to customers soon.

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