Opus Research: Voice Biometrics Market to Near $600 Million by 2017

For those outside the speech technology industry, "Your voice is your password" might sound like something from a George Orwell novel, but speech authentication is increasingly being put into practice thanks to advances in voice biometric technology.

According to a new report from Opus Research, "Voice Biometrics Consensus: Global Tally of Voice Security and Authentication Implementations," there are now approximately 150 voice biometrics deployments worldwide that have processed roughly 70 million voice prints.

"I think that people will be surprised that the number of people who enrolled their voiceprints is around 70 million," says Dan Miller, founder and lead analyst at Opus. "These were not harvested; they were provided voluntarily [by customers]."

The report identifies Nuance Communications, VoiceTrust, Auraya Systems/ArmorVox, Agnitio, SpeechPro, and VoiceVault as industry leaders. Nuance has publicly stated it has approximately 45 million enrolled voiceprints, making it the biggest voice biometrics solution provider in the world.

As a whole, Opus sees a substantial boom in growth in the voice biometrics industry. "[The] industry closed 2013 with over $165 million in annual revenues, and is poised to exceed $584 million in annual revenue in three years, representing a hefty 37.2 percent compound annual growth rate. This compares to the 42.7 percent growth we’ve observed between 2012 and 2014."

Breaking those figures down by region, Opus saw disparate findings. According to the report, North America accounted for 44 percent of deployments, "looking strictly at the number of systems in service." Following closely behind, the EMEA area garnered 35 percent of implementations; APAC had 13 percent and CALA (the Caribbean and Latin America ) had 8 percent.

However, as far as voiceprint enrollments, the numbers tell a different story: EMEA accumulated approximately 62 percent of total global enrollments. The CALA region took second place at 14 percent, followed by the APAC and North American regions tying for last place at 12 percent each. 

The EMEA region saw dramatic adoption by consumers—particularly in Turkey, where the top three phone service carriers, Vodafone, Global Bilgi (Turkcell) and Avea, collectively enrolled close to 20 million customer voiceprints. Nuance was responsible for many of the enrollments in the region thanks to its 2011 partnership with Turkcell.

"It's impressive that an organized marketing program like that, carried out by three different telecom carriers in Turkey, could elicit such positive reactions and foreshadow rapid adoption in other geographic territories," Miller says.

Crunching more data, Opus found that globally, voice biometrics was used primarily by what it called "the usual suspects:" telcos and voice processing technologies. Financial services, retail, and travel use the most voice authentication in contact centers, and on the consumer front, banks have increasingly deployed the technology. Other sectors that are playing catch up include government, healthcare, insurance, education, and law enforcement.

"Two years ago, people were looking at the edge of the [voice biometrics] pool and saying, 'I'm not jumping in there,'" Miller said previously. "There's enough that's been learned from companies with millions of enrollees that the myth that customers don't want this or don't want to enroll has been overcome."

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