Deployments of biometrics are usually fairly challenging, but Apple has demonstrated through its Touch ID fingerprint system that it can scale a consumer biometric technology quickly. London-based ValidSoft predicts it can do the same for voice biometrics by using the microphone built into most consumer gadgets.
Banks can use voice biometric technology to authenticate their customers, as well as provide added protection for their internal networks as employees log in.
"Biometrics generally have an awful lot of value in this space," said Adrian Kelly, chief product officer at ValidSoft. "Voice has an edge there because it works across all channels; the [voice biometric] collection devices are universal now. Every device has a microphone."
This is in contrast to Apple's Touch ID, which is on relatively few devices even within Apple's lineup. This scarcity has led companies like New York-based Hypr-3 to create add-ons such as a fingerprint-reading sticker.
Consumers in the U.K. and other European countries, where Apple isn't the dominant provider of mobile devices, are still familiar with biometrics through other uses. For years, European governments have used biometric technology in passports and in school settings. Many kids in Europe pay for their lunches using a thumbprint.
And Barclays is rolling out voice biometrics across all their call centers, said Kelly.
ValidSoft is hoping to make biometric authentication mainstream for card not present transactions. While fraud at the physical point of sale has been reduced drastically in countries that have migrated to EMV-chip cards (the U.S. liability shift deadline for EMV is October 2015), EMV doesn't address fraud in online or mobile commerce settings.
With today's standard of 3D Secure, consumers can enter an additional password when they make an e-commerce purchase. This added step leads to high checkout abandonment rates and consumers choosing to reset forgotten passwords, which can be detrimental to the system's security, said Kelly.
The companies behind 3D Secure are working to modernize it by creating a system that is less reliant on typed passwords.
One option could be a system that asks the shopper to speak a one-time phrase for voice authentication, Kelly said. This prompt could come through a browser window or a as a push notification from a mobile banking app. ValidSoft has begun a number of trials in the financial sector specifically around the mobile banking use case.
Allowing banks to take over the second factor of authentication through the mobile banking app could increase engagement with other mobile banking services, Kelly said.