NAB opts for voice biometrics, looks to consumers to dictate expansion

November 20, 2012 - 

The National Australia Bank (NAB) has opted to use voice recognition for the biometric authentication of its customers rather than fingerprinting, as its deems the technology more secure and reliable, ZDNet reported.

“Voice has around 120 security points, compared to fingerprint, which has about 40,” NAB executive general manager of enterprise transformation Adam Bennett said. “It’s a very robust approach to security.”

When customers call into to NAB’s telephone banking call centre, they can opt in to use voice-recognition. The recognition data is stored internally by the bank, and in order to ensure that recorded voice clips can’t be used to trick the system, it uses a string of different questions that are difficult for pre-recordings to answer.

As we indicated in an explainer article on speaker recognition in, voice biometrics is a popular choice for remote authentication, as the equipment needed to collect samples is accessible and basic (e.g., telephones, computer microphones).

Working with Telstra, Nuance and Salmat Speech Solutions, NAB has announced it will be rolling out a new, simpler recognition system, which according to the bank, will save customers 15 million minutes per year, collectively.

According to Bennett, the bank will consider expanding its use of voice biometrics, including for its ATMs, based on demand.

In a report, it’s said that voice recognition is the most preferred form of biometric identification among consumers.  Referencing a Unisys survey, the report shows that biometric measures ranked by consumer preference are: voice recognition (32%), fingerprints (27%), facial scan (20%), hand geometry (12%) and iris scan (10%).

According an article in the Australian Financial Review, Gavin Slater, Business Services executive for the NAB Group said he recognizes multiple types of biometric technologies are being promoted by banks today and eventually an industry standard will have to be created.

“I don’t really know [when the standard will be created] because I think at this stage everyone is looking at options”

Would you be comfortable doing your banking with a service that opted for voice recognition authentication? If not, what would you prefer?


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About Adam Vrankulj

Adam Vrankulj is an editor for His background consists of online news writing, editing and content marketing. Adam has written for, BlogTO and was the editor and curator for the nextMEDIA and CIX Source publications. He has a degree in journalism and is passionate about science, technology and social innovation. Contact Adam, or follow him at @adamvrankulj