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Say goodbye to the pin: voice recognition takes over at Barclays Wealth

Barclays Wealth customers will no longer need to answer security questions and remember pin codes to use telephone banking.

Barclays Wealth customers will be able to use voice recognition rather than security pins.

Advanced voice recognition will detect whether a customer is who they say they are after just 30 seconds of normal conversation, the bank claims.

The system, which is powered by the voice specialists Nuance, who are also widely known to be behind Apple's Siri technology, could end the frustration of customers who struggle to remember passwords.

"Intrusive security questions have now been replaced by customers simply speaking, in their natural voice, to the banking agent – the customer's voice is verified after less than a minute making the authentication process quick and secure," Barclays Wealth said.

Wealth, the private banking division of Barclays, is the first financial services firm to deploy voice biometrics as the primary means to authenticate customers in their call centres. A verified voiceprint is used to identify the caller to the system, which will be rolled out across Barclays in the future.

Customers who have already used the services have already rated it 9 out of 10 for speed, ease of use and security in 93 per cent of cases.

Barclays claims the system has enabled the bank to improve security, while at the same time making client calls shorter and reducing Barclays' overall costs.

Invasive security questions, such as a customer's mother's maiden name are called 'knowledge-based authentication', but are routinely misremembered by customers. Customers must also repeatedly be verified each time they call.

Software called 'Nuance FreeSpeech' uses voice biometrics technology to compare the customer's voice to their unique voiceprint on file, and silently signals to the Barclays representative when the customer's identity has been verified.

If security thresholds are not met, customers will use the traditional methods.

Since its introduction, Barclays says more than 84 per cent of its customers have enrolled in the Nuance voice biometrics solution, with 95 per cent of those customers successfully verified upon their first use of the system.

"We need to make sure that clients' needs for convenience and ease of access are effectively balanced with our mutual need for security," said Matt Smallman, of Barclays Wealth and Investment Management.

"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," added Robert Weideman of Nuance. "Voice biometrics technology allows organizations such as Barclays to redefine their customer service experiences through a more intuitive and transparent authentication process, easing the burden on both customers and service agents."

Source : The Telegraph