Philippine pensioners 'speak' to new system

The system will let active and retired government workers access pensions and apply for state loans.

PHILIPPINES--The government has activated a voice recognition system that will allow millions of active and retired government employees to access their government pensions and apply for state loans.

In a briefing and demo last week, the Government Services Insurance System (GSIS) activated the GSIS Voice Activated Processing System or GVAPS.

Using either a landline or a cellular phone, GSIS members can access a slew of services, according to the GSIS's president and chairman Winston Garcia.

The GSIS, which has more than 1.2 million members, has been undergoing a massive technology makeover in the last five years, the latest of which is the GVAPS.

Garcia said the voice recognition system is "very secure", noting that each individual has his or her own unique voice characteristic and this is "what the system recognizes".

"This biometric system is very secure and it can detect each person's unique voice characteristic to avoid fraud attempts," he said.

According to Garcia, a GSIS member can enroll through the telephone by simply following a voice-prompt system which then records the member's voice.

Members can go to any GVAPS enrollment center nationwide to have their voices recorded. After which, members and pensioners can call a GSIS domestic toll free number or mobile phone numbers 1-800-10-847-4747 for Smart and PLDT subscribers, and 1-800-8-847-4747 for Globe Telecom.

The GVAPS was launched a few months earlier in selected countries abroad, a move that Garcia said, allowed the GSIS to test the system before launching it in the Philippines.

"This is the latest technological breakthrough that the GSIS has so far successfully deployed," Garcia said, noting that the system was designed by the GSIS's own IT department.

The executive also said the GSIS has to do its own systems integration for the service as part of efforts to beef up its security. Garcia, however, disclosed that the software deployed was purchased from abroad but he did not give further details.

He also did not disclose the investment that the GSIS has made on the system.

The GSIS currently handles billions of pesos in pension and social security funds, among others, that it eventually uses for retired and active members.

Joel D. Pinaroc is a freelance IT writer based in the Philippines.