Barclays rolls out voice recognition security to phone banking customers

Barclays has claimed a first with the abolition of passwords and the use of voice recognition instead.
Written by Colin Barker, Contributor
Image: Barclays

Barclays is rolling out technology that can identify telephone banking customers by their voice alone.

Voice recognition has been around for some time and, as the bank says, "each person's voice is as unique as their fingerprint, made up of over 100 characteristics based on the physical configuration of the speaker's mouth and throat."

That means that when a customer calls up to use telephone banking, the technology will be able to identify them simply from the first few words they speak.

Barclays has been testing the technology since 2013 but now it says it is ready to start rolling out the service to all of its personal banking customers this month.

The system works by using the customer's voice print, so that each time a customer calls, the technology will compare their voice against a voice print it has already gathered. If it matches, the money is theirs.

The bank said the voice print will be securely stored on its systems, and customers can opt out at any time, at which point their voice print will be permanently deleted.

Barclays will need to have multiple copies of users' voice print, with a minimum of two, before they can opt to use voice security technology rather than a password to identify themselves.

"There's no need for customers to change how they bank with us, or in fact do anything differently at all," said Steven Cooper, CEO of Personal Banking at Barclays. "Just continue to use telephone banking in the same way. "

Who can use the system? Customers must be a Barclays Personal or Premier customers and 16 or over. Who can't? Corporate and business customers cannot access the service, or at least not yet.

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