Voice Signatures to Make Waves in Security Arena

Voice Commerce Group released a new identification system, using voice signatures. This will be of great benefit to the financial industry worldwide, ensuring more efficient security against fraud and across all platforms. London-based Voice Commerce Group has formed a strategic alliance with publicly traded Burlington, Mass.-based Nuance Communications to support the global roll-out of the system, called Voice Transact. Voice recognition was originally developed for the military. And now, it is believed by experts that Voice Signatures will transform the global payments and financial services industry. Everyone know why better security is needed. Identity theft is now a household term. Recently Harris Research released findings that 80 percent of consumers are worried about the safety of their bank accounts. Consumers are accustomed to the myriad ways they may be asked to prove who they are: with a social security number, a birth date, a mother’s maiden name, as well as the name of a beloved first pet, the city of birth, or the name of a teacher in first grade. Nothing is standard. Biometrics are standard identification. These include markers such as fingerprints, DNA, iris-scanning, and facial and skull patterns–and have been found to be more trustworthy, and less likely to be stolen or fabricated. DNA is used routinely in the courts, iris-scanning is now used for point-of-entry in the United Kingdom, and facial recognition is used by U.S. troops in Iraq. The voice system recognizes all major languages, and offers multi-currency capabilities. Nuance Communications currently secures phone-based transactions for the financial industry worldwide.The system is the first platform for voice signatures that integrates all current standards: including Visa and MasterCard Level 1 PC1, ISO 19029, and EU certification 1999/93 for digital certificates within the Single European Payments Area (SEPA). Nick Ogden, the CEO of Voice Commerce, founder of WorldPay in 2001, and the man behind the new voice signature system, told CPN, “We were looking at how the internet and the financial systems converge. Voice Commerce has a hosted system that covers 50 countries. In 2007, we had launched Voice Pay to supply web payments. It triggered much interest. About 300 banks contacted us and as a result of those conversations with the financial organizations, we developed Voice Transact. And this is a system that can be integrated into the bank environment itself. We have also promoted a series of standards which can provide support for the financial industry to ensure inter-operability.“But one big challenge,” explained Ogden “is the question of how to collect the signature and how do you use it? We’ve built a system which allows financial services, and banks and other organizations to allow customers to use their voice – for a whole range of transactions. It is not revolutionary – it is evolutionary technology. Instead of your written signature – now when you open a bank account- you’ll still create that hard copy written signature. [Then] They will hand you a telephone. Or, if you call into a call center, they’ll pass you to our authentication or enrollment call platform.” Voice Transact is currently a system designed only for a regulated financial services company. Presently, five different organizations are already using Voice Transact including The Emirates Bank. One question that remains to be resolved is who will actually control and be the custodian of someone’s voice biometric? Voice Commerce is now talking to regulators around the world, and is expecting that banks will hold the responsibility and be the eventual custodians. Nick Ogden added, “Truly one of the most important aspects of this is that voice signatures give a high degree of empowerment to both the consumer and to the banks in a way they haven’t had for a number of years. Twenty years or so ago, a consumer either paid for things with cash, or signed a check. This system brings us the ability to return to that environment where every single transaction can be authorized.”