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BNZ uses facial recognition to let customers know how they feel about their finances


The Bank of New Zealand is using face and emotion recognition to let customers know what scares them about their own financial standing.

Called EmotionScan, the system was co-created by BNZ, nViso and Stuart Carr, a professor of psychology at Massey University.

Reported by The Financial Brand, EmotionScan works by analyzing users’ faces as they listen to a series of scenarios related to eight different financial “areas of interest,” which include cash flow, budgeting, mortgages, retirement, financial security, financial control, debt, dependents, donations and savings. The system runs through a browser and leverages webcams in user computers.

“Our technology tracks hundreds of points on the face,” Tim Llewellynn, CEO of nViso said in the report. “We’re able to map those points to over 43 muscles, allowing us to capture micro-expressions and translate those into a set of common emotions.”

For the bank’s part, it hopes that it glean insights as to where New Zealanders are both comfortable and concerned with their finances, and it also aims to give people a better idea about what they may need guidance with financially in hopes they’ll come in and book an appointment with a financial advisor.

Though this isn’t an identification objective, it is an interesting use of face and emotional recognition technologies – particularly from a marketing perspective. Banks are typically some of the strongest adopters of biometric technologies.

The Biometrics Research Group has noted that mobile devices are expected to drive the bank adoption of voice biometrics, and has also pinpointed that Asia is expected to lead the growth in biometric banking applications.

The group previously estimated the total revenue for biometrics supplied to the global banking sector would total US$900 million by the end of 2012. 

Reported previously, this is not BNZ’s first foray into customer-facing biometrics. Earlier this year the company announced its plans to introduce voice identification technologies to its call centers.

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