Industry News

Barclays Bank Tests Vocal Passwords

Barclays Wealth & Investment Management is testing the biometrics solution offered by Nuance’s FreeSpeech to authenticate phone customers.

The bank identifies customers by checking callers’ voices against pre-recorded customers’ voice patterns. The bank logs the vocal sample without customers’ knowledge, by recording several calls after  security identification checks are passed by its clients.

A 20 to 30-second conversation between the caller and the bank agent is enough for a comparison against the audio samples stored in a client database. If a match is found, the software silently announces the bank agent he is dealing with a bank customer. If, however, the biometric system fails, the Barclays call operators can simply turn to the question-and-answer system to confirm the identity of the customer.

“Nuance’s voice biometrics technology is playing a vital role in ensuring our wider client service transformation project is an outstanding success. Both our clients and colleagues love that it increases security and convenience at the same time whilst making client calls shorter and reducing our overall cost to serve,” said Matt Smallman of Client Experience Strategy and Change, Barclays Wealth and Investment Management.

The voice biometrics security solution would replace the current security system of questions that requires people to provide a pre-set series of details and information that at times can be frustratingly hard to remember.

According to PCWorld, since its introduction, some 84 percent of Barclays’ client base has agreed to test the new system and approximately 95 percent of them were authenticated as Barclays customers the first time they used the biometrics method for identification.

“In this competitive environment we need to make sure that clients’ needs for convenience and ease of access are effectively balanced with our mutual need for security,” added Smallman.

About the author


A blend of teacher and technical journalist with a pinch of e-threat analysis, Loredana Botezatu writes mostly about malware and spam. She believes that most errors happen between the keyboard and the chair. Loredana has been writing about the IT world and e-security for well over five years and has made a personal goal out of educating computer users about the ins and outs of the cybercrime ecosystem.