ICICI Bank will deploy voice-recognition technology for biometric authentication, that will enable customers to call and transfer funds to registered beneficiaries or pay bills without having to enter card numbers or keying in PIN codes, reports the Times of India. The feature will apparently roll out in the coming weeks.
The feature will work by picking up a voice sample from customers in ‘just 10 seconds’ when they call the bank, post which the bank’s servers will identify the users account details and match it with its database. According to the bank, in the future voice data will be analyzed to identify if callers are agitated, in a hurry or irritated, to avoid cross-sell pitches.
The bank has tied up with Nuance Communications, which helped create Apple’s Siri, to provide it with voice recognition. The software will use around 100 parameters for matching sound samples, for which it will need at least 35 seconds of voice during any conversation. According to the company, the voiceprint is a hashed string of numbers and characters that represent how specific an individual’s voice rates on a host of characteristics being measured, and hence can work without the caller being required to speak specific words in any particular language.
Note that over the past couple of years, banks have been rolling out speech recognition technology to battle fraud internationally. Typically these technologies work using spectrograms to verify identities and can tell its the same person even if they are ill. Voices are pretty hard to replicate artificially and aren’t as vulnerable to security breaches as passwords are, making voice recognition generally safer than other means of transacting. Overall, this initiative by ICICI bank is interesting, although we will reserve our final judgement for when its publicly usable.
ICICI digital initiatives: ICICI has been ramping up its digital initiatives in recent times with various launches targeted at mobile and Internet users. The bank launched its digital walled called ‘Pockets’ for Android devices just last month. The bank mentioned then it would release iOS and Windows Phone apps for the same, soon. It’s worth noting that ICICI Bank had launched a Facebook banking application called Pockets in 2013.
In January, ICICI Bank launched its NFC-enabled cards in three cities, and so far the bank has introduced over 1200 Electronic Data Capture (EDC) machines capable of accepting contactless payments. The same month, the bank also launched its NFC-based credit and debit cards which allows customers to wave their cards near the merchant terminal instead of swiping them. Interestingly, the bank’s executive director Rajiv Sabharwal had said that the lender will be looking to develop banking products on wearables. We don’t know how this would work and whether it will be limited only to non-financial transactions, but it would be interesting to see how it pans out.