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Barclays Set to Roll-Out Voice Biometrics

Barclays is the latest major bank to use biometrics technology to authenticate its customers after sharing plans to roll out voice recognition to its telephone banking service this week.

The move should put an end to the use of the telephone banking passwords which are currently utilized by the bank to ensure those on the other end of the line are who they say they are.

Password-based credentials always open up the risk that they could be phished from unsuspecting users.

Using voice biometrics could also close down another avenue for fraud, where scammers call up trying to elicit info from operatives using social engineering techniques, before attempting to access victim accounts at a later date.

It’s unclear at this stage which technology partner Barclays has teamed up with to offer the service, although it will be rolled-out this week, according to The Telegraph.

It first needs to monitor the user’s voice, usually over a period of around one to two calls, but then should promise a slicker, more secure authentication method for customers which will also avoid them being forced to reveal any potentially embarrassing transactional data.

“We have been testing it for a while to make sure it will work with the vast majority of people and that we won’t have a high rejection rate,” said Barclays’ head of personal banking, Steven Cooper.

“It is no more personal than [storing] a password or a recent transaction which could include buying something you don’t want to talk about.”

This isn’t the first time Barclays has experimented with alternative authentication methods. Back in 2014 it announced plans to roll-out the Barclays Biometric Reader to Corporate Banking clients.

Developed by Hitachi, the reader scans the user’s finger veins to identify their unique patterns – it’s thought to be much harder to spoof than fingerprints.

Barclays also previously made voice biometrics available to its Wealth customers in order to identify them over the phone.

Richard Lack, an EMEA director at identity management firm Gigya, argued that biometrics offer the best of both worlds in terms of convenience and security.

“Biometric authentication is a powerful enabler, allowing businesses smart enough to deploy it to significantly increase rates of registration, gaining data and insight about their customers, while also increasing customer security,” he added.

“This is a win/win scenario which sounds the death-knell for awkward and insecure passwords sooner than we may imagine.”

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