Barclays phone banking service to replace passwords with voice recognition
Barclays had trialled its voice security technology with a small set of customers, way back in 2013Reuters

Barclays has announced that its personal banking customers will, starting this week, be able to use voice security technology over passwords. This would help customers avoid the need to answer various questions over the telephone to gain access to their bank accounts.

The British bank said this was not the first time it is using this technology. It explained that this was trialled with a small set of customers in 2013. Now the bank has decided to offer this option to all its personal banking customers.

Barclays said over the course of about three phone calls, its telephone banking service will create a digital profile of a customer's voices, like a unique fingerprint. Once a suitable profile has been developed, customers will be allowed to opt for voice security over the regular password system, to identify themselves, the London-based bank said.

"Each person's voice is as unique as their fingerprint, made up of over 100 characteristics based on the physical configuration of the speaker's mouth and throat. Therefore, when a customer calls up to use telephone banking, the technology will be able to identify them simply from the first few words that are spoken," the bank was quoted as saying by The Times.

Barclays said voice security had two advantages over the regular password system. While on the one hand it makes telephone banking quicker for customers, on the other, it makes it more difficult for fraudsters to access others' accounts, it said.

Steven Cooper, head of personal banking at Barclays, said: "We can all relate to the frustration of forgetting a password at the crucial moment. Voice security can cut out that part of the call completely and, unlike a password, each person's voice is as unique as a fingerprint."

HSBC stated in February that it will introduce voice and fingerprint recognition for its internet banking customers. The bank had described the decision as a very important step towards the launch of biometric banking.