Citibank to use voice biometrics to authenticate customers

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Citibank to use voice biometrics to authenticate customers

Aussie clients among first recipients.

Citibank will turn to voice biometrics to identify customers calling its support centres to eliminate the need for passwords.

Taiwanese customers will be first in line to use the new capability, while Australian, New Zealand and Singaporean customers will be brought on board over the next few weeks, the bank said.

Citibank expects to equip its entire Asia-Pacific operation with the voice biometric technology before the end of 2017.

The bank has 15 million customers in the region, and it expects 1 million of those will authenticate using the voice recognition software within the next year.

Its APAC call centres receive around 35 million calls annually, the bank said, most of which are currently manually verified.

Customers can opt-in to voice identification by recording a "print" of their voice that will be stored by the bank and tapped when the user calls Citibank.

Citibank said identifying customers via voice biometrics would take 15 seconds or less, compared to the 45 seconds it takes using more traditional methods to verify a customer's details.

"We know that remembering different PINs and answering multiple questions can make the process frustrating. With this new capability, we offer our customers a faster and more secure authentication for a better customer experience,” APAC head of consumer banking Anand Selva said in a statement.

The world's banks are looking for new ways to replace the flawed password system, moving to options like voice and fingerprint biometrics.

Many of Australia's banks allow users to log on to mobile banking applications on applicable iOS and Android smartphones by using fingerprint authentication, while the Australian Tax Office uses voice biometrics to identify users calling into its contact centre.

The Bank of America last month applied for a patent on specific voice biometric technology, while two years ago Barclays Bank in the UK said it was trialling a biometric reader that scans a finger and identifies unique vein patterns for authentication.

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