Voice Authentication for Financial Services - ArmorVox™August 17, 2012
Financial Services companies are burdened with providing convenient and permanent access to secure applications. At the same time, they are under pressure from regulators, shareholders and customers to strengthen security to protect the institution, its assets and customers’ personal information from theft and loss.
Voice identification technology on the rise for financial services
New Zealand’s Inland Revenue Department recently declared that 400,000 people (that is one in ten New Zealanders) have registered to use their system that checks users voice to confirm their identity. The option, where callers’ voices are checked against pre-
“voiceprints’” captured when they register for the service, is an alternative to using PINs and passwords when dealing with the department 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 watched by banks around the world and has been deployed by the St George Bank and the NAB in Australia.
How voice biometrics works
Conceptually, voice biometrics is very simple.
First, an individual enrolls their voice in the system, typically by repeating an account number and/or date of birth, three times. From this, the system creates a “digital model” of that individual’s voice, often referred to as “a voiceprint”. The voiceprint is not a voice recording; but a digital representation of the way that individual’s voice sounds.
Then on a subsequent call, the caller makes a claim to an identity, most often by quoting their account number. The voice sample spoken by the caller is compared against the voiceprint associated with that account number, to compute the likelihood that this is indeed the same individual who enrolled in the first place. If it is the same individual and there is a good match between the voice and voiceprint, the likelihood score computed will be high, resulting in the system accepting the caller’s claim to identity. However, if it is a fraudster, using stolen account numbers for example, the voice match will be weak, resulting in the claimed identity being rejected by the system. 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
The benefits of voice biometrics to financial services organizations can be classified under
1. Improving the efficiency of customer service centers
Financial servcies spend a lot of time authenticating that customers are who they
say they are. This process usually involves the agents asking callers 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. Given that an agent in the
US, can cost anywhere from $0.50 to $1 per minute to employ, this process costs
the financial institutions anywhere from 50 cents to $3 to complete. When you are
taking tens of millions of calls per year, the numbers add up!
Automating identity authentication using voice biometrics in financial services call
centers makes perfect economic sense.
2. Enhancing the customer experience
Financial services organizations often pride themselves on good customer service.
But the first thing a financial institutions do when you call them is to ask a bunch of
personal and often invaisive 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; you are denied service. This is a painful process guaranteed to upset
the customer even before they get started on their inquiry.
So how much more convenient would it be to only state your account number and
that’s it? No questions, no making sure you have all you information with you before
you call; no denial of service if you don’t quite remember your last transaction.
Voice biometrics is quick, easy, efficient and effective allowing your customers get
down to business right away, no fuss and no litany of questions!
3. Strengthening security
The big issue facing financial institutions worldwide, is identity fruad 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
poeple’s accounts. A professional identity theif can usually get enough personal
information to break into a victim’s account by searching the Web for about 10 to 20
minutes or breaking into your Facebook or LinkedIn account. 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 agregate around 1 billion identities are
now compromised, making this one of the major issues for the financial services
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 authentication creditial in a single voice sample. A
speaker has to say the correct information with the correct voice. Voice biometrics
renders the PINs passwords and personal identity information stolen by identity theft
valueless in accessing financial services.
And if you think that simply recording a person’s voice is enough to break these
systems, think again. Random challenge response 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
informaion in call center operations, it eliminates the opportunity for identity theft in
the call center.
With financial institutions increasingly looking for lower cost options in India, the
Phillipines and elswhere, the problem beomes how to comply with the privacy
legislations of the home market — which often prevents the trans-border flows of a
client’s personal information. If it is bad that an identity is stolen in a US call center,
how much worse is it if it is stolen in an off-shore facility? However, by using voice
biometrics to automatically authenticate identity in a home market, the flow of
personal information to the offshore facility can be controlled, thereby minimizing
the risk of customer identity theft in these operations.
Do you need to protect your customer information?
ArmorVox provides a practical voice-based identity verification system that reliably blocks impostors using ImposterMaps. Interested in discussing multi-factor voice authentication solutions? Contact an ArmorVox expert today to learn more about the ArmorVox Speaker Identity System and to kick start your discovery project with our Quick Start programs.