Barclays swaps voice for PIN security

woman on telephoneBarclays Wealth has introduced space-age technology to recognise the voices of its richest customers to save them having to remember passwords and PINs.

The bank says the voice recognition system will be rolled out to all Barclays customers soon.


The FreeSpeech "text-independent biometric speaker verification system" is from Nuance, the firm behind Dragon Dictate voice recognition software and the Siri voice system used on iPhones. It is built to comply with tough financial services regulation designed to keep personal financial information private.

Barclays Wealth says 84% of its customer signed up in under five months and 95% of customers enrolled are successfully verified without needing their PIN. The rich people's bank said 93% of its customers scored the system nine out of ten. The bank reckons it shaves 5% off call times.

Matt Smallman is in charge of "client experience strategy and change" at Barclays Wealth and Investment Management. He says: "In this competitive environment we need to make sure that clients' needs for convenience and ease of access are effectively balanced with our mutual need for security.

"Nuance's voice biometrics technology is playing a vital role in ensuring our wider client service transformation project is an outstanding success. Both our clients and colleagues love that it increases security and convenience at the same time whilst making client calls shorter and reducing our overall cost to serve."

Natural language

Nuance says: "Traditional single-factor authentication approaches including passwords and challenge questions no longer provide the necessary safeguards for secure remote services.

"Biometric speaker verification technology uses the power of voice to provide the critical component in an effective multi-factor authentication solution and is the most comprehensive natural-language speaker verification system available."

So there you have it: plain speaking, from the Barclays bankers.

10 things we hate about our banks

10 things we hate about our banks

More stories

More stories