Nuance Advances Into Voice Biometrics

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Hot on the heels of its acquisition of voice biometrics solutions vendor PerSay in late December, Nuance Communications has released Version 7.0 of Nuance VocalPassword and Nuance

FreeSpeech, which provide underlying technology for some of the world’s largest customer-facing voice biometrics deployments. The solutions handle millions of voiceprints for major financial institutions, telecom service providers, healthcare providers, enterprises, and law enforcement and government agencies.

Nuance’s VocalPassword employs a multiengine capability that targets automated remote verification based on an individual’s voice. The solution will enable users of the legacy verification product Nuance Verifier 4 to migrate their applications seamlessly to the new product line.

Nuance FreeSpeech performs verification and fraud detection in the background of contact center conversations between callers and agents.

Nuance’s voice biometrics platform delivers an array of new capabilities, including the following:

• text-dependent, text-independent, and text-prompted engines to deliver higher accuracy and flexibility;
• prevention of identity theft via new fraud detection and its ability to mitigate call interception and voice phishing;
• advanced tools for configuration and setup, system monitoring, and other day-to-day activities, such as end-user support;
• support for integrated security, with role-based authorization now containing an improved encryption mechanism that supports custom (customer-provided) encryption;
• support for full multitenancy, enabling a single system to support multiple voice biometrics applications using different algorithmic engines and configuration settings; and
• a new installation kit that supports multiserver, multisite, and high-availability deployments as well as a flexible licensing mechanism.

Chuck Buffum, vice president of authentication solutions at Nuance, says his company hopes to expand its offerings to a variety of markets as a result of the acquisition. The deal brings to Nuance text-independent authentication and authentication on iPhones. It also expands Nuance’s customer base in voice biometrics. Among PerSay’s nearly 200 customers are Bell Canada, Vodafone Turkey, and a number of other large accounts in the financial services, government, and healthcare verticals.

Bank Leumi, one of PerSay’s more visible accounts, is looking forward to the new Nuance solutions. “At Bank Leumi, safeguarding our customers from fraud and providing a positive customer experience is of number one importance to us,” Zahi Ovdat, head of contact centers project administration, said in a statement. “Through the new capabilities delivered in VocalPassword 7.0, we will be able to provide enhanced accuracy and secure all our customer interactions via multifactor authentication.”

As with most of Nuance’s acquisitions, the PerSay deal “was the classic build-it-or-buy-it situation,” Buffum says. “We decided to buy it.”
In the acquisition, Buffum says, Nuance gained products in the call center automated verification space and can now automate calls using voiceprints to deliver voice-based identification and verification solutions. He says some of the markets that have been using or will likely use biometrics include financial services, government, healthcare, and mobile.

Recent Nuance research conducted via a Twitter poll supports the growing market for voice biometrics in the mobile arena. The poll found that nearly a third of consumers believe voice biometrics is the best method for verifying their identities on their mobile devices.

News Editor Leonard Klie can be reached at lklie@infotoday.com.

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