Business

HSBC offers voice and fingerprint ID system to customers

  • 19 February 2016
  • From the section Business
Media captionThe BBC's Ben Thompson tested the voice recognition system

HSBC is launching voice recognition and touch security services in the UK in a big leap towards the introduction of biometric banking.

The bank says its phone and mobile banking customers will no longer have to remember a password or memorable places and dates to access accounts.

Barclays has already introduced voice recognition software, but it is only available to certain clients.

RBS and NatWest have offered finger print technology for the last year.

The move comes weeks ahead of the launch of Atom Bank, which will allow its customers to log on via a face recognition system.

HSBC says its service will be offered to up to 15 million banking customers.

First Direct's customers will be offered the voice and fingerprint recognition system over the next few weeks, followed by HSBC's in the summer.

Francesca McDonagh, HSBC UK's head of retail banking and wealth management, described the change as "the largest planned rollout of voice biometric security technology in the UK".

She said: "The launch of voice and touch ID makes it even quicker and easier for customers to access their bank account, using the most secure form of password technology - the body."

Touch ID is available on all Apple mobile devices for both HSBC and First Direct. Customers must download the mobile banking app and follow the instructions to link their fingerprint to it.

The future

Nuance Communications is supplying the voice biometrics technology, which works by cross-checking against over 100 unique identifiers including both behavioural features such as speed, cadence and pronunciation, and physical aspects including the shape of larynx, vocal tract and nasal passages.

Customers who want to use the service will have to enrol their "voice print" and will no longer need to use passwords or PINs.

The bank says the system will still work when someone is ill.

"We will be able to cope with people who have got colds or slight impediments," Joe Gordon, UK head of customer contact at HSBC, told the BBC.

"Things such as the size of your mouth or your vocal tract don't change. Neither do your cadence or your accent when you've got those little colds."

A YouGov survey of 2,038 people, commissioned by HSBC and published on Friday, found that 55% of those polled said they rarely changed passwords, while 74% felt that biometric security would become the default "password" of the future.

Barclays says it was the first bank to offer voice recognition software. However, the service is only available to corporate clients at the moment.

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