Barclays puts Nuance voice recognition tech to work at identifying customers

The introduction of voice biometrics to gain access to bank accounts could mean that customers no longer need to remember pin codes or the answers to a plethora of security questions.
Written by Sam Shead, Contributor on

The Barclays Wealth call centre is using Nuance's voice recognition technology to securely identify some of its customers over the phone. 

The move, announced on Wednesday, means that customers of Barclays' private banking division can access their accounts without the need to answer multiple security questions. 

The bank said that the traditionally-used "knowledge-based authentication" method could be intrusive and cumbersome as customers often forgot the answers to security questions such as: "What is the name of your favourite pet?" and "Who was your best childhood friend?" 

"Nuance's voice biometrics technology is playing a vital role in ensuring our wider client service transformation project is an outstanding success," Matt Smallman, of Barclays Wealth and Investment Management, said on Tuesday. "It increases security and convenience at the same time whilst making client calls shorter and reducing our overall cost to serve."

Barclays claims that it can identify a person after just 20-30 seconds of natural conversation using Nuance’s FreeSpeech voice biometric technology.

The software works by matching the person's voice to a pre-recorded individual voiceprint on file and silently lets the Barclays representative at the other end of the phone know when the customer has been verified. If the person's voice can't be verified then the traditional security questions will be asked by a member of the Barclays customer service team.

"We’re in the midst of a rapid evolution in customer service today, as people demand more natural, human interactions when they seek service and support," said Robert Weideman, executive vice president and general manager of the Nuance Enterprise Division, on Wednesday. 

Barclays claims to be the first bank to use Nuance's voice technology, which has already been introduced in mobile, health and auto applications.

An overwhelming majority (84 percent) of Barclays Wealth customers have chosen to use the voice biometric identification service since it was introduced eight months ago, with 95 percent of those customers successfully verified upon thier first use of the platform, Nuance said.


Editorial standards