Low consumer confidence in telephone banking security measures allayed by Voice Biometrics

8 July 2008

SpeechStorm, the specialist provider of speech self-service solutions for contact centres, and Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, an Alcatel-Lucent company (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU), have today announced the results of a new survey that investigated consumers’ attitudes towards current telephone banking security measures and voice biometrics. The study found that 61 per cent are concerned about the security of PIN, passwords and ‘secret data’ when used to confirm ID over the phone with a contact centre agent and 42 per cent of people using telephone banking believe their banks don’t take enough security measures to prevent fraud or identity theft.

The survey’s results send a clear message to banks that they need to be more proactive in the use of technology, as over a third of respondents would be inclined to move to an alternative bank if it offered a more secure service such as voice biometrics as an identity verification measure.

The research was conducted by SpeechStorm and Genesys during May and June 2008 under the guidance of University of Ulster’s Head of Voice Authentication Research, Professor Michael McTear. During 30-minute face-to-face interviews, 41 per cent of respondents revealed that they believe their personal information is more secure when using an automated systems than speaking to a live agent (36 per cent) when handling PIN and passwords. Eighty six per cent of the candidates said they would be happier to use either voice biometrics (28 per cent) or a blend of both voice biometrics and PIN/Password (58 per cent) measures for telephone banking identification and verification.

Professor Michael McTear, Head of Voice Authentication Research at the University of Ulster explains the significance of the research and the raison d’etre behind its findings. “Given the concerns that many bank customers have with the threat of identity fraud and the associated risks for their personal finances, it is imperative that banks should be encouraged to provide an effective and easy-to-use method for additional security. Voice authentication provides such a method.” Professor McTear continues. “The customer is not required to enter complicated sequences of numbers and letters but simply answers a few questions in their normal voice. Voice biometrics is an effective and reliable technology for authenticating valid customers and, more importantly, for rejecting ‘imposters’ whose voice does not match the customer’s voiceprint.”

With 80 per cent of respondents declaring that security is an important element of banking transactions completed over the phone, and with almost three quarters (74 per cent) stating that they’ve been more careful with their personal information in the last twelve months, SpeechStorm and Genesys believe that this survey highlights the need for banks to address security concerns. Voice biometrics technology provided by speech recognition providers, such as SpeechStorm, can add an additional layer of identification and verification that would enable financial institutions to meet consumers’ requirements and gain a competitive edge where telephone banking security is concerned.

Key findings from the Consumer Attitudes to Voice Biometrics Survey:

Security concerns and behavioural impact
• 74% of respondents have been more careful about their personal information in the last 12 months compared with the previous 12 months
• 42% of respondents are either not confident or not sure about their bank’s ability to prevent anyone from accessing their accounts

Confidence in voice biometrics
• 79% would be willing to use voice biometrics in the future
• 86% of respondents would be happier to use either voice biometrics (28%) or a blend of both voice biometrics and Password/PIN (58%) in identifying them for telephone banking transactions in future
• 72% would be happy to receive a call from a speech automated service using voice biometrics as an additional security method

Consumers’ message to banks
• 38% would be inclined to join a bank that offered voice biometric security, versus one that did not
• More than a third of respondents (34%) agree they could consider moving to an alternative bank if it offered a more secure service like voice biometrics
• 37% would even be happy to pay a small fee to a bank that is very proactive in securing their personal information

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