26 August 2015

How Voice Verification Can Change the Payments Industry

By Martin Hummel, Voice Biometrics Consultant, Soitron UK


Many people in the payment industry remain blissfully unaware that voice biometrics is one of the most efficient and effective way to verify an individual’s identity. Equally surprising is the fact that it is only being used amongst a handful of early adopters, such as Barclays and Tatra Bank (part of the Raiffeisen Group), but in each of these cases, it has produced great efficiencies.

It works by recording a voice sample (“voiceprint”) of a customer. This is then paired with the customer’s data, so from then on, every time the customer calls the business, they are authenticated by voice and able to proceed with their banking operations without the need for any other security procedures.

Voice biometric security has been with us for a few years now, and while experts claim that it’s the future of security, the reality is that the uptake has been relatively slow to date. However, it has the potential to replace the password or PIN-based identity verification, which we all acknowledge is antiquated and has many failings from both the business and consumer perspectives.

The Benefits

Going through password security is time consuming, clunky and frustrating for all parties involved. The near-immediacy of voice biometrics is beneficial to both contact centres and consumers – contact centres will be able to eliminate significant verification times, thus allowing them to service more customers. Consumers will benefit from accessing services nearly immediately, and of course, not having to remember their password – which we know can be a major chore in itself.

The other benefit is the reduction of identity fraud. Stealing a voice is far more difficult than stealing passwords and “physical” documents. This is powerful for businesses, but it also delivers an added level of protection to the customer, safeguarding them from the distress of having their personal data stolen and needing to go through the subsequent and often lengthy claims processes.

Typical questions

The most common questions we get are on where it can go wrong. And here are the answers: 1. No matter how good you are at impressions, you will not be able to replicate someone’s voiceprint. 2. Your voiceprint doesn’t change over time – it is the same throughout your life 3. Even if you are driving a tractor, the system will identify your voice. This is a fairly fool proof system, which also addresses PCI-DSS compliance – often a barrier for new technologies, but not in this case.

An example of voice biometrics in practice is Tatra Bank in Slovakia. First introduced in 2013, and now with more than 250,000 registered customer voice samples (one third of the whole customer database of the bank), the average time of client identification process has been reduced 66 percent – to an average of just 27 seconds per customer. Now, 85% of all calls to the bank’s contact centre that require authentication are verified by voice. This time reduction has resulted in fewer operators required to provide the same level of service, which enabled the bank to focus more on active sales.

Considering where we are today with the near pervasive use of passwords to verify customer identities, voice biometrics is more than a single leap in terms of convenience, usability, accessibility, functionality and of course, security.

This article was originally published in