Barclays Deploys Nuance Voice Biometrics Solution

Nuance has added Barclays Wealth and Investment Management to its voice biometrics customer roster, making Barclays the first financial services firm to deploy passive voice biometrics as the primary means to authenticate customers in their call center.

When a customer call Barclays to access his account, he has a 20- to 30-second natural conversation with a customer service agent. In that time, Nuance FreeSpeech voice biometrics technology compares the customer's voice to his unique voiceprint on file. The solution silently signals to the Barclays representative when the customer's identity has been verified. If the customer is not verified by the system or if the transaction request is above security thresholds, Barclays agents can then move to a traditional, knowledge-based authentication process.

"We were looking at the performance of our service centers with our affluent and high net-worth clients and the authentication process that they go through, which [can involve] seven different methods, depending on which area of business they were in," says Matt Smallman, vice president of Client Experience Strategy and Change at Barclays Wealth and Investment Management. "This was incredibly disruptive to the experience that we were trying to deliver."

After testing the solution, Barclays deployed it in September 2012. Barclays says that more than 84 percent of its customers have enrolled in the Nuance voice biometrics solution, with 95 percent of those customers successfully verified upon their first use of the system.

Customer feedback with the contact center experience has improved, with 93 percent of customers rating Barclays at least nine out of ten for the speed, ease of use, and security of the new authentication system.

In addition to positive customer feedback, Barclays says that the use of voice biometrics will benefit its return on investment.

"We've been pleasantly surprised by the efficiency," says Smallman. "[The solution is] also is on track to pay for itself in a reasonable timeframe on pure efficiency alone, which makes the client security and efficiency aspects an added bonus."

Nuance also pointed to new surveys concerning voice biometrics, which showed that that 85 percent of people are dissatisfied with current authentication methods, and that 90 percent said that they are interested in using voice biometric solutions in place of traditional methods of authentication if it means the same high levels of security.

Nuance voice biometrics has deployed more than 30 million voiceprints, making up roughly 80 percent of the commercial market, according to the company. Its FreeSpeech voice biometrics solution incorporates technology from PerSay, which Nuance acquired in 2010.

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