Citibank to roll out voice biometrics

Citibank Australia CEO Roy Gori said today that the company is planning to roll-out voice biometrics for identification to select early adopter customers in three months.
Written by Suzanne Tindal, Contributor

Citibank Australia CEO Roy Gori said today that the company is planning to roll-out voice biometrics for identification to select early adopter customers in three months.

Citibank balloon

(Credit: Citbank)

"Actually I think the next step in the evolution of security is voice biometrics," he said. "We are already sort of playing with this."

A person's voiceprint is more accurate than their fingerprint, their iris or any other means of identification, according to the CEO.

It would save a lot of time and money, Gori said, because it would cut out the traditional asking of questions for identification.

"Right now when a collection guy calls you, you need to identify who you are. It's a very painful process."

Gori said he was surprised at how good the third-party systems currently being tested were.

"I personally registered and then tried to beat it. I spoke in a girl's voice. I muffled my voice ... I pretended I had a cold. It got it right," he said.

Then someone else tried to pretend to be impersonate Gori, and the system recognised the difference straight away.

The next step after testing is completed is to get people to register and agree to it, Gori said. Trials began six weeks ago, and early adopters could be using the system within three months.

"I think in three months from now we'll be in a position where we'll be rolling out in a bigger way," he said. "We're currently in test mode. We've got some customers that are actually registered we're asking are they keen to use this."

According to Gori, success in banking security amounts to staying ahead of the pack, as cyber-criminals will always attack the weak.

"If they hear in their own networks that it's really easy to hit Citibank, they'll hit Citibank," said Linda Duncombe, Citibank's head of marketing and digital banking.

Citibank had lower levels of fraud than the rest of the industry, according to Gori. It was easier for Citibank to implement innovative solutions due to its smaller size in the country, he said.

Mobile and internet banking enhancements

Security isn't the only front on which Citibank is advancing. Today it announced a new mobile banking service which allows customers to perform normal online banking transactions using their mobile phones.

Citibank also released location-based iPhone applications which allow customers to see which merchants nearby have partnerships with Citibank and will offer deals, such as cheaper restaurant fare. The new mobile application will also locate Citibank ATMs. Both functions are available in 16 Asian countries.

The bank also announced the launch of the second phase of its global internet banking platform. In March, Citbank Australia acted as a pilot country for a new online banking site that enables customers to have a single view of their local and offshore accounts and conduct instant, free transactions.

Today, the bank announced several additional features.

"Calendar view" will let customers see transactions they've scheduled for the future. "Multiple payments" will enable them to pay many bills via a single form. "Personal budgeting" will make it possible for customers to set themselves specific budgets (for automotive, restaurants or groceries, for example) and then check actual payments against those budgets. The feature will also allow customers to compare their spend against the spending of average customers.

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