Asia-Pacific financial institutions turn to voice biometrics

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A growing number of banks throughout the Asia-Pacific region are adopting voice biometrics as an efficient and secure means of identity verification.

In May 2016, Citi became the first financial institution to introduce a voice biometrics authentication program in the Asia-Pacific, with a goal of enrolling a million customers in its first year. Last month, the bank announced it had reached that target two months early.

The program works by automatically identifying customers’ voices when they call a Citi contact center. As they explain their reason for calling, their identity can be verified by their unique voice print within 15 seconds. Citi’s voice authentication has already been rolled out in Taiwan, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and India, and the company expects to see enrollments continue to grow.

“The rapid adoption of mobile and other digital channels has truly transformed how people bank and we are delighted that Voice Biometrics has proved such a hit with our clients,” said Anand Selva, Head of Citi’s Asia Pacific Consumer Banking, in a press release.

Other banks in the region have followed suit.

Earlier this month, for example, ANZ announced that it would be rolling out its own voice biometrics platform to automatically authorize transactions of more than 1,000 AUD.

OCBC, DBS, and HSBC have also recently launched their own voice biometrics systems.

“A person’s voice has five to ten times as many security points than other methods such as fingerprints so we know this will improve security and be welcomed by our customers,” ANZ Managing Director for Customer Experience and Digital Channels Peter Dalton said in a statement. “The technology is now so advanced that it can tell the difference between identical twins or even a voice recording.”

In addition to providing increased security, Dalton also pointed out that voice biometrics are a “natural extension” of existing technology as users become accustomed to operating various devices using verbal commands. Voice authentication mechanisms also eliminate the need for customers to remember individual PINs, passwords, or security questions.