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The company whose technology powers Apple’s Siri virtual assistant says its next-generation voice-biometric technology is 50 percent more accurate than its predecessor, reaching 99.6% accuracy, and is better able to detect fraud. As such, Nuance Communications Inc. is beginning to market the service as an alternative to password and PIN use for access authentication.

User names and passwords for years have been the prime authentication method used to access online banking, mobile apps and an ever-increasing number of other secured environments. But as their use has grown, consumers are finding it increasingly difficult to remember so many different ones for each, resulting in many using the same ones across different websites, apps and other secured activities.

Nuance uses multiple tactics to keeping its voice authentication system secure. It reportedly can detect if someone is trying to authenticate with a recording of one’s passphrase, it can detect whether a change in the speaker has occurred throughout the voice interaction, and it now can more effectively detect suspicious behavior, such as someone trying to log in to multiple accounts very quickly.


With voice biometrics, a phrase spoken out loud can replace a password or PIN for things like mobile apps, websites, and call centers. For consumers, it’s a faster way to access your services without having to remember a password. Nuance also claims that voice authentication leads to better customer satisfaction and reduced costs.

Ninety-three percent of Barclays customers, for example, have rated its voice authentication a 9 out of 10 in terms of “speed, ease of use, and security,” and it’s also led to calls that are 5 percent shorter (or around 20 seconds). Nuance says it powered more than 100 million voice biometric verifications last year, and it’s also received more than 30 million voiceprints from consumers.

“We really felt that if we didn’t get the authentication piece right, a lot of the technologies we offer customers will be playing catch-up [in terms of user adoption],” said Greg Pal, Nuance’s vice president of marketing and business development, in an interview with VentureBeat.
Better accuracy, naturally, should lead to even wider adoption of Nuance’s voice biometrics. The company took around 10 years to reach 10 million voiceprints (it had the technology for a while but only recently started pushing it forward), but it managed to reach the 30 million mark in the last two years. Given its current growth, Pal says Nuance should double that figure soon.

Expect to see interest in using biometrics as an alternative to user names and passwords to grow as consumer frustration increases and more fraudsters take advantage of individuals who use the same ones across multiple websites and apps, which is a growing problem worldwide as consumers try to remember them more easily. We’re at or near the tipping point where those frustrations are overtaking, or will soon, consumers’ Big Brother fears often associated with biometric authentication.

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