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News

Bank uses voice biometrics for customer identification

Nuance Communications : 09 May, 2013  (Application Story)
Customer authentication at Barclays bank division now uses voice biometrics technology instead of personal questions improving speed and security
Bank uses voice biometrics for customer identification

Barclays Wealth & Investment Management has deployed Nuance’s FreeSpeech voice biometrics solution to securely and automatically confirm the identity of Barclays customers – using the sound of their voice. No longer will customers need to answer intrusive security questions in order to verify their identity. By simply speaking with an agent, a customer’s voice is verified using Nuance voice biometrics technology, making the authentication process quick, secure and transparent.

Until now, when people have called a bank to access their account, they have typically been forced to prove their identity though a series of intrusive security questions – what the industry refers to as ‘knowledge-based authentication.’ This time-consuming line of questioning can lead to even more frustration when customers can’t remember answers to obscure security questions such as “What is the name of your favorite pet?” or “What is the name of your best childhood friend?” and are further annoyed if they are ultimately denied access to their accounts for misremembering. Even when a customer does succeed at accessing their account, if they call back a few minutes later, the process – and the intrusive questioning – starts all over again from the beginning.

To solve this, Barclays, through a partnership with Nuance, is using secure voice biometrics technology to turn back the clock to the days when a customer could be taken at their word when verifying their identity. When a customer calls in to Barclays to access their account, they engage in 20 to 30 seconds of natural conversation with a customer service agent. During that time, Nuance FreeSpeech voice biometrics technology is used to compare the customer’s voice to their unique voiceprint on file, and silently signals to the Barclays representative when the customer’s identity has been verified. If the customer is not verified by the system, or if the transaction request is above security thresholds, Barclays agents can seamlessly move to a traditional, knowledge-based authentication process.

Barclays is the first financial services firm to deploy passive voice biometrics as the primary means to authenticate customers in their call center. For their innovation, Barclays recently won an FStech Award for the 'Best Use of Technology in Customer Service' for its deployment of Nuance voice biometrics for customer authentication. Since its introduction, more than 84% of Barclays’ customers have enrolled in the Nuance voice biometrics solution, with 95% of those customers successfully verified upon their first use of the system. Better still, customer feedback with the contact center experience has improved, with 93% of customers rating Barclays at least 9 of 10 for the speed, ease of use and security of the new authentication system.

“In this competitive environment we need to make sure that clients’ needs for convenience and ease of access are effectively balanced with our mutual need for security,” said Matt Smallman, Client Experience Strategy and Change, Barclays Wealth and Investment Management. “Nuance’s voice biometrics technology is playing a vital role in ensuring our wider client service transformation project is an outstanding success. Both our clients and colleagues love that it increases security and convenience at the same time whilst making client calls shorter and reducing our overall cost to serve.”

“We’re in the midst of a rapid evolution in customer service today, as people demand more natural, human interactions when they seek service and support,” said Robert Weideman, executive vice president and general manager of the Nuance Enterprise Division. “Nuance’s voice biometrics technology allows organizations such as Barclays to redefine their customer service experiences through a more intuitive and transparent authentication process, easing the burden on both customers and service agents.”

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