Auraya Blog

Understanding Voice Biometrics for Financial Services

Pryathna Sankaranarayanan | May 9, 2017 | 6 minutes


Financial Services companies are required to provide information and access to services such as money transfer, bank account details, amongst others – all of which involve the private, protected data of their customers . Doing so in a secure and convenient regulatory compliant manner for customers is challenging.

From the perspective of regulators, shareholders and customers – strengthening security around services to protect the institution, its assets and customers’ personal information from theft and loss is always a key priority. Providing security which is convenient for customers is where the real challenge is. The technological solution that ArmorVox provides, helps deliver security and compliance and proactively manage fraud risk whilst providing a delightful customer experience.

Voice identification technology on the rise for financial services

New Zealand’s Inland Revenue Department has more than 2,000,000 people (that is more than 60% of the adult population of New Zealand) registered to use Voice Prints to to confirm their identity. The option, where callers’ voices are checked against – “voiceprints’” captured when they register for the service, is an alternative to using PINs, passwords, one time passcode generators and personal information such as date of birth when dealing with the organisation by phone.

“Feedback from our customers is very positive, and this is reflected in the growing number of people using the service”, declared Eleanor Young, customer services manager.

The voice identification technology is also being used by banks around the world and has been deployed by the BNZ in New Zealand, Macquarie bank in Australia and Barclays in the UK.

How voice biometrics works

Conceptually, voice biometrics is very simple.

First, an individual enrols their voice in the system, typically by repeating an account number and/or phone number, three times. From this, the system creates a “digital model” of that individual’s voice, often referred to as “a voice print”. The voice print is not a voice recording; but a digital representation of the way that individual’s voice sounds.

Then on a subsequent calls or digital interactions, the caller verifies their identity, by saying the number displayed on the device’s screen or repeating their phone number if they are calling the banks call centre. The voice sample spoken by the caller is compared against the voice print associated with customers account. If the voice print matches then the transaction is confirmed or the agent is alerted that the caller is verified.  However, if it is a fraudster, using stolen account numbers for example, the system will alert the agent that the caller is a fraudster or in a digital transaction the security system will be alerted to the impostor attack and take appropriate action. At this point the caller can be transferred to a special section of the bank trained to handle failed authentication attempts.

Voice authentication benefits to financial services

1. Enhancing the customer experience

Financial services organizations pride themselves on good customer service. But the first thing a financial institution does when you call them is to ask you a bunch of personal and often invasive questions; such as your date of birth; maiden name; where you live; and / or a recent transaction. And if, after all that, you fail to answer the questions correctly; you are denied service. This is a painful process guaranteed to upset the customer even before they get started on their inquiry. Often the person most upset by this process is the contact centre agent who finds the process boring, repetitive and a barrier to providing a good service. Implementing Biometric verification has been found to be the biggest contributor to Agent satisfaction improving retention and lifting over all customer satisfaction.

With ArmorVox, customers are verified accurately, rapidly and securely – with their voice. The agent and the customer can both discuss and solve the customer’s inquiry – and they both complete the transaction with a better experience. For the agent, his satisfaction increases and improves the overall productivity of the company, and the customer walks away with a positive experience of the company. It’s why ArmorVox has been adopted globally across various sectors, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

2. Improving the operational efficiency of customer service centers

The biggest savings delivered by biometrics is allowing customers to complete their transaction or inquiry in their channel of choice. ArmorVox biometrics provides the digital security necessary to allow all transactions to be completed on websites and digital channels such as APP’s or Chat. If customers can complete their transactions without needing to call the contact centre then the load on the contact centre decreases. If a caller to the contact centre is biometrically verified in the IVR then that caller can be provided with self service options in the IVR so that they don’t need to talk to an agent, further improving efficiency and speeding the resolution time for the customer.

For those callers who want to speak with an agent they can save themselves and the agent a lot of time because verifying and authenticating customers in the IVR or when they start talking with an agent eliminates the wasted time and frustration of being asked a list of personal information questions, such as mother’s maiden name etc. This is a costly and time consuming process and, depending on how much information the agent needs, this can take anywhere from 1 minute to 3 minutes per call. Automating identity verification using voice biometrics in financial services call centers can give businesses better cost control, along with improved security.

3. Strengthening security

Another big issue facing financial institutions globally is identity fraud and theft. The recent spate of data breaches and theft of PINs and passwords from social networks is aimed at getting the log-ins and personal information required to break into people’s accounts. A professional identity thief can usually get enough personal information to break into a victim’s account by scouring the web and social networks for information. The fact that someone knows your name, address, mother’s maiden name and so on does not prove that they are you.

Law enforcement agencies estimate that in aggregate around 1 billion identities are now compromised, making this one of the major issues for the financial services industry.

Loss to fraud continues to escalate, the pain and frustration of the victims of fraud continues to have significant impact on customer loyalty and the value of `the brand’. So, if you cannot trust personal information, PINs or passwords to authenticate a caller’s identity, then what can you trust? The answer is a biometric, and the simplest biometric is voice. Voice provides a multi-factor verification credential with a single voice sample. A speaker has to say the correct information with the correct voice. And if you think that simply recording a person’s voice is enough to break these systems, think again. The Random Challenge Response by ArmorVox overcomes the most sophisticated voice recording attacks.

4. Protecting privacy and the customers’ personal information

Strengthening security in the face of escalating identity theft is one thing, but setting up a process to prevent customer personal information being stolen in the first place is another. Because voice biometrics erases the need for agents to use personal information in call centre operations, it eliminates the opportunity for identity theft in the call centres and digital channels and face to face transactions. With financial institutions increasingly looking to lower the cost of complying with privacy and “know your customer” legislation ArmorVox provides an effective automated and regulatory compliant capability to ensure all transactions have a “Biometric digital signature” which is Non-Repudiable, auditable and available within the organisations secure infrastructure.


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