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A Voice Biometrics system that works with non-verbal speakers

What are the difficulties when accessing services over the telephone or online?

As a non-verbal communicator, I’ve had a whole host of poor experiences with companies where I can’t service an account through my channel of choice since my Cerebral Palsy limits my ability to speak, as well as my manual dexterity.

One particularly poor experience was with a bank who ‘improved’ its service by moving from a traditional Interactive Voice Response (IVR) where you had to select ‘1’ to find out your balance, to a system that relied on speech recognition. This caused an unintentional barrier and could exclude customers from using telephone banking or cause them to compromise their security details by using text to speech services to retain easy access to essential services.

It is especially difficult to navigate menu or conversation based IVR dialogues if you have a disability that impacts your dexterity, as well as your speech.

What are the security issues surrounding current authentication solutions?

As hackers and identity thieves have become more and more sophisticated, knowledge-based authentication using password or PIN security just isn’t effective at keeping customer information safe and secure. To combat the latest security threats, businesses and other services need to update their security perimeters.

This is important for businesses, especially those who the customer has trusted to run their bank account and manage their finances. In the UK, the financial regulatory body, the Financial Conduct Authority or FCA, completed a survey (Financial Lives 2020) that showed that 1 in 5 UK adults, equating to over 10 million people, had given their credit or debit card to someone else to use, or had shared their current account, savings account or credit card PIN or password with another person in the last 12 months, with customers with some characteristics of vulnerability more likely to be a victim of financial abuse.

This makes sense as customers who may have difficulty remembering passwords may have to rely on someone else, just to do simple things like access their bank account.

As it stands, with some services I have to enlist the help of a trusted relative to communicate and verify who I am. This is concerning as it could potentially lead to fraudsters gaining access to my details and hacking into my account by misrepresenting me.

How can a language independent Voice Biometrics system help?

We’ve all been there, you need to call a service supplier and tell them about a problem or ask a question about your service and you are faced with a barrage of questions like, ‘Enter your date of birth’; ‘the numeric digits of your postcode’, or a personal favourite, ‘the 4th and 8th digits of your security PIN’ (how many times have you forgotten that!). With 87% of adults in the UK using a smartphone, it is safe to assume a lot of these calls will be made using such a device and sometimes, just getting back to a keypad can lead a customer to miss the prompt and have to start again. This can be frustrating for a customer who just wants to get some information. Now imagine changing that process so you only have to answer a simple question or prompt.

Voice biometrics overcomes traditional security risks, helping customers stay in control, reducing the risk of passwords and PIN numbers being shared and helping financial service companies protect their customers' information. The technology is equipped to handle both physical and behavioural features within people’s speech patterns, making it virtually fraud-proof. A good language independent Voice Biometric system relies on the voice characteristics rather than the actual words spoken. This means it can still be used by people with impaired speech as long as they can vocalise to some extent.

For a customer, enabling a voice response makes the authentication process smooth as they would be expecting to speak when they made the call. By focusing on voice biometrics rather than spoken word recognition, authentication can be more accessible, enabling people with speech disorders to use these services without compromising their security details. It also gets over all the hurdles of the customer forgetting their PIN number as the system is identifying the customer's voice. Giving customers easy access and reducing errors can result in a big improvement for the customer experience and reduces agent handling time making contact centres more efficient.

A system that really works for non-verbal communicators!

Since starting with Aculab one of the products that has impressed me the most is VoiSentry, which uses voice biometrics to enable speaker verification and authentication to an organisation’s applications. VoiSentry uses artificial intelligence and speech patterns to distinguish individuals. This can transform how a call centre operates and can help financial services organisations reduce fraud.

At Aculab, developers have created the VoiSentry system, which extracts many diverse vocal traits and uses a hybrid approach, intertwining artificial neural networks, signal processing technology and analytic linguistics, to create frictionless authentication.

I tested the VoiSentry demo to see if the software works for someone who is affected by cerebral palsy and has limited speech and paralysis in their left side. Honestly, I was impressed to find that the application was able to identify and verify me every single time. I made numerous attempts, making different noises to challenge the software. In the end, it demonstrated that it was able to pick up the nuances of my voice in order to get a verification. I’ve not had an experience like that with any of my current service providers which shows how cutting edge VoiSentry is, whilst being incredibly simple for an end user.

By integrating VoiSentry, both businesses and customers alike get numerous benefits, such as enhanced security and reduced identity and verification time. In addition to this, VoiSentry meets compliance obligations for data protection whilst being likely to feel less invasive than other forms of authentication. It is also a cost-effective option, meaning that companies can replace time-consuming manual processes and improve their returns on investments each year. By using this technology, the identification process is more transparent for both caller and call taker, resulting in improved agent morale with more time to engage with callers.

Reece Wheeler




The Aculab blog

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