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Nuance working with HSBC on UK roll out of voice biometrics solution


According to a report by ITV, more than 15 million HSBC and first direct mobile banking customers are being offered the option to use voice or fingerprint biometric authentication to securely access their banking accounts.

Voice ID enrollment will be available to first direct (a division of HSBC Bank) customers in the upcoming weeks and will be followed by HSBC by the summer. Touch ID is currently available for all customers using the HSBC and first direct mobile banking app on Apple mobile devices.

The voice biometrics technology is being provided by Nuance Communications Inc. The company’s voice biometrics solutions have helped financial institutions like Royal Bank of Canada, ING Netherlands, Manulife, USAA and Eastern Bank to safely and securely identify customers based on their voice.

According to a recent interview with Brett Beranek, director of Nuance’s product strategy for voice biometrics, the Nuance solution accounts for 100 different characteristics, half of which are physical traits (vocal tracks, organs through which the voice passes through, chipped teeth, etc.) and the other half are behavioral traits (speaking in peaks and valleys, accents, etc.), all of which are measured and picked up.

Measurement can be made with a very small sample of audio – just a few seconds. With the audio, the Nuance technology measures characteristics and then creates a real-time voiceprint, which is compared to a voiceprint that was previously stored within the database. Through the algorithm, a statistical analysis is made of the two prints, and if the characteristics line up, the authentication attempt receives a positive score; if not, it receives a negative score.

Francesca McDonagh, HSBC UK’s head of retail banking and wealth management, described the program as “the largest planned roll out of voice biometric security technology in the UK”.

According to a January report by information services firm Experian, the British public are warming up to the use of biometrics as a means of security and authentication with 61% of people feeling that biometric technology is as secure, or more secure, than the current online system of passwords. The report also found that 64% of UK adults would be comfortable using biometrics to log into their online banking account.

“Recent innovations have really brought biometrics into everyday life and now the majority of UK adults are willing to accept it as a form of ID verification for accounts,” said Ian Cunningham, managing director of ID and fraud at Experian.

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