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Voice biometrics

Barclays Wealth & Investment Management has deployed voice biometrics 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, to verify their identity. By speaking with an agent, a customer’s voice is verified using voice biometrics.

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

To solve this, Barclays, with Nuance, is using voice biometrics to return to 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 is used to compare the customer’s voice to their unique voiceprint on file, and signals to the Barclays representative when the customer’s identity has been verified. If the customer is not verified, or if the transaction request is above security thresholds, agents can move to the knowledge-based authentication.

Barclays is thought to be the first financial services firm to deploy passive voice biometrics as the primary means to authenticate customers in their call centre. More than 84pc of Barclays’ customers have enrolled in the Nuance voice biometrics solution, with 95pc of those customers verified upon their first use of the system. As for customer feedback 93pc of customers rating Barclays at least nine out of ten for the speed, ease of use and security of the new authentication system.

Matt Smallman, Client Experience Strategy and Change, Barclays Wealth and Investment Management, said: “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. 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.”

And Robert Weideman, executive vice president and general manager of the Nuance Enterprise Division, said: “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. Nuance’s voice biometrics technology allows organisations 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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