Voice biometrics for the masses

I recently had the privilege to attend the 2014 Opus Research Voice Biometrics Conference in San Francisco. This time, I was joined by representatives from two Nuance customers, U.S. Bank and Banco Santander Mexico, who presented their compelling use-cases and results from implementing Nuance technology. One clear message resonated from the conference; voice biometrics is reaching the masses in North America!

I’ve shared in previous blogs some of the great customer presentations that have become the hallmark signature of the Opus Voice Biometrics conferences. These include Tatra Bank’s presentation at the VBC event in London 2013  and Barclays Wealth & Investment Management’s presentation at VBC San Francisco 2013. The 2014 Opus Voice Biometrics Conference, held once again in San Francisco, did not disappoint! In fact, we heard from two leading financial institutions, U.S. Bank and Banco Santander Mexico. Both shared a wealth of information on their experiences with voice biometrics. The one key insight that I gathered from their presentations is that voice biometrics is reaching the masses in North America.

For those of you that track voice biometrics, you’re aware of some of the massive deployments in Europe such as Turkcell with over ten million deployed voiceprints and Vodafone with over 3.5 million. Similar multi-million deployments exist in other countries, such as Australia. However, deployments in North America have tended to hover in the hundreds of thousands of voiceprints, and have targeted select user groups such as high net worth individuals, or brokerage customers, or even internal employees within the deployments at organizations such as TD Waterhouse, Vanguard and Eastern Bank. Santander and U.S. Bank presented a very different vision for voice biometrics in North America in that they aimed to serve retail banking customers. Santander shared that in a mere few months since launching voice biometrics in their IVR, they had more than 1.7 million of their retail banking customers enrolled and using voice biometrics, and are tracking to reach over 4 million by 2015. U.S. Bank shared their vision to bring both voice biometrics and a virtual assistant experience to their retail banking mobile app.

As banks bring voice biometric authentication to their retail banking customers, the average consumer will have exposure to this technology – and I predict will start demanding it from the other organizations that they deal with, ranging from telecom service providers to insurance firms to government agencies. The argument for voice biometrics is compelling. First, consumers love the experience because it’s easier than passwords. There’s nothing to remember, nothing to carry, simply speak a simple passphrase such as “At U.S. Bank, my voice is my password”. U.S. Bank shared that on a scale of 1 to 5, consumers rated the voice biometric enrollment process 4.42 and shared qualitative comments on personalization and security such as “I feel like the app knows it’s me” and “Can’t duplicate my voice; always possible to decode a password.” Second, voice biometrics delivers a solid business case. Santander shared that they are on track to achieving all of their business objectives, and have already been able to reassign 53 call center agents to other tasks due to the increased containment and reduced AHT (translation= shorter calls) resulting from improved authentication rates.

My prediction for the next year’s VBC conference? First, we’ll hear from an increasing number of North American firms sharing their experiences bringing voice biometric authentication to their retail customers. Second, increasingly these deployments will be in mobile apps and will be combined with virtual assistants to deliver an end-to-end voice experience.

Representatives from U.S. Bank and Banco Santander Mexico also joined me yesterday to share their compelling stories to a room full of industry analysts at our Nuance Enterprise Analyst Day in Cambridge. Exploring these customer deployments sparked insightful conversation on the current state of voice authentication and virtual assistants with a deep view into real-world applications, as well as possibilities for the future. Other major themes for the day included Nuance’s role in creating a more human conversation with technology through proactive advisors, conversational IVR, and proactive engagement solutions. On behalf of Nuance, I’d like to send a big thank you to our customers and analysts who spent the day with us!

Want to learn more about voice biometrics? Download our new white paper “Voice Biometrics 101” for some great insight and tips for getting started with voice biometrics.

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Brett Beranek

About Brett Beranek

Like you, CX and biometrics expert Brett Beranek – Director Product Strategy, Enterprise – is fascinated by transformative technologies that have a real impact on our lives. With over fifteen years of experience in the customer experience and biometrics space, Brett brings strategic and tactical insights to organizations wishing to deliver a better experience to their customers via innovative security technologies. Prior to joining Nuance, Brett a technologist and entrepreneur by education and passion, successfully introduced several disruptive technologies to the health-care, IT and security markets, including as a partner of facial recognition firm Viion Systems and member of Genetec’s management team, a security firm that transformed the video surveillance market. Brett also currently serves on the advisory board of high-tech healthcare startup GaitTronics. Brett earned a Bachelor of Commerce, Information Systems Major, from McGill University as well as an Executive Marketing certificate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management. Brett loves travelling the globe and discovering new cultures with his three kids, Layla, Rayan and Nora and his wife, Tania.