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New Zealand’s Tax and Social Welfare Authority Boasts One Million Voice ID Enrollees

2014 March 28
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Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 4.14.23 PMWhen it comes to using voice-based authentication as alternatives to PINs and passwords, the world could learn a lot form New Zealand. In scope, duration and staying power, the Kiwi’s plans for eGovernment and ID proofing put the rest of the world to shame. This point was made manifest when Revenue Minister Todd McClay proclaimed on the government Web site that the department’s Voice ID service had hit and exceeded a 1 million enrollee milestone, going so far as to say that 60-70% of callers to IRD have registered their voiceprints which is “saving taxpayers a staggering 8,500 hours of phone time each year” as they turn to the phone channel to check their account balance, receive child support information, track tax refunds, retrieve IRD numbers, activate online services or reset passwords.

The Inland Revenue Department (Te Tari Taake in native Maori) launched the program in July 2012 and targeted 800,000 enrollees in its first year of operation. For the record, the country has a population of roughly 4.5 million with over 6 million accounts with its taxation office. While there are legitimate reasons for such a ratio is that businesses need to establish their own ID number with the IRD. That said, the agency initially became interested in voice biometrics as a way to reduce fraud.

One case, in particular, provided incentive for IRD to step up to the voice biometric plate. The department became aware of individual who said he had used names and dates of birth to obtain information on 25 people, which he then to create 103 companies and filed tax returns for all of them, each eligible for a refund. According to a report in the Government Technology Review, the fraud was picked up after $53,000 had been claimed (though not paid out). In court, the the fraudster admitted that he had designed the scheme to defraud the government of $2.5 million a year by making multiple claims that fell underneath the government’s threshold.

IRD definitely has first mover status in terms of e-government applications. On the one hand, it has proven how simple and effective the use of voice biometrics can be. It also demonstrates the depth of commitment and thought that must go into taking a holistic approach to both ID and access management (IAM). This point was driven home at the Voice Biometrics Conference in London (November 2013) when John Dardo, Assistant Commissioner at the Australian Taxation Office (the IRD’s nearby cousin), shared his thoughts on his government’s efforts to take a “whole of the customer” approach to e-government and its service delivery strategy.

In essence, we have a situation where multiple government agencies are communicating with and serving individuals who have multiple credentials, identifiers, accounts and devices. To maintain trusted links and carry out trusted communications, strong authentication is getting ever more important. Suffice it to say that there are big plans to make voice biometrics a big part of establishing confidence that an individual is the person he or she claims to be regardless of when, where and how they try to reach the government. In New Zealand, the analogous program is called RealMe, which is positioned as a “single sign on” service designed to replace more cumbersome ways for individuals to prove their identity when they apply for or establish eligibility for government services or programs. The program launched in 2013. Its roadmap includes additional mechanisms for multifactor authentication, full mobile support and support for voice biometrics.

For those who are wondering, registration entails a trip to the post office with a picture and proof of identity that can be presented in person. Adding voiceprints and multifactor authentication to the mix is a big step toward fraud-reduction and trust. Because it is based on “who you are,” not what you know, it should be more impervious to impostors, yet simple to use.

To learn more about voice authentication case studies be sure to check out Voice Biometrics Conference San Francisco (May 14-15, 2014)

U.S Bank and Banco Santander Mexico to Highlight Mobile Banking, Customer Care at VBCSF

2014 March 26

BethG_smallVoice Biometrics Conference San Francisco 2014 will feature Beth Gallagher, VP of payments innovation with U.S. Bank, and José Ignacio Zorrilla, executive director of channels at Banco Santander Mexico, describing how voice biometrics can be used to authenticate banking customers over the phone or for mobile banking applications.

Both U.S. Bank and Banco Santander Mexico are currently deploying voice biometrics as a means to identify and authenticate banking customers rather than relying on passwords or knowledge-based questions. Each organization will discuss how to build an authentication strategy that helps better serve customers, streamline operational efficiencies and save money.

VBC San Francisco (May 14-15) will address the pressing issues facing executives in financial services, contact centers, healthcare, insurance and communications that enable secure interactions with customers.

Click here to see the VBC San Francisco 2014 agenda.

Voice Biometrics Conference San Francisco is the only global event dedicated to voice security and multi-factor authentication and features a who’s-who sponsor list of industry stalwarts and technology visionaries in voice biometrics, fraud prevention and security & authentication. The sponsor list includes:

  • Platinum Sponsors: Nuance, NICE, Verint, VoiceVault
  • Gold Sponsors: ValidSoft, Pindrop Security, VoiceTrust, AGNITiO
  • Event Sponsors: RSA, ImageWare Systems

VoiceVault Makes Mobile Push with ViGo Platform

2014 March 24

ViGo_handAs mobile devices are an increasingly common channel for consumers to make purchases, pay bills or check account information, VoiceVault has developed a voice biometrics platform exclusively for mobile.

Known as ViGo, the standardized technology package is intended for making it easy for businesses to develop ways to authenticate users in mobile apps.

As noted in the announcement, “ViGo eases the burden on organizations eager to provide their customers with a secure and convenient addition to multifactor authentication solutions.”

The platform, featured in a redesigned VoiceVault website, is marketed for any business or enterprise looking to rapidly build and integrate voice-based mobile apps. Pricing for ViGo will be in a tiered structure “exclusively based on annual user registrations.”

The topic of authentication for mobile devices will be featured prominently at Opus Research’s Voice Biometrics Conference San Francisco (May 14-15) with panel discussions and presentations from VoiceVault and U.S. Bank, among others.

Pakistan’s United Bank Limited Chooses VoiceTrust for Voice Authentication

2014 February 26

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United Bank Limited (UBL) has selected VoiceTrust to provide a voice biometrics-based platform to verify the identity of retail and enterprise customers.

In an announcement, VoiceTrust says the Pakistani bank will integrate the Altitude uCl suite into its IVR system to authenticate customers, government employees, and pensioners using their voice. The system will work for both English and Urdu speakers.

According to the press release, the bank will also use the “VoiceTrust Proof-of-Life® solution to prevent pension fraud and overpayments with voice biometrics.” By verifying customer identity over the telephone to release funds, the system will make the process more convenient, saving the customer the hassle of traveling to a branch and waiting in line.

UBL, founded in 1959, operates a network of more than 1,200 branches across Pakistan and has 17 overseas branches. In 1971, the bank was nationalized by the Pakistani government, before being sold in open auction to private investors in 2002 to form United National Bank Limited.

Banco Santander Mexico to Keynote Voice Biometrics Conference San Francisco 2014

2014 February 18

SantanderOpus Research is pleased to announce José Ignacio Zorrilla, with Banco Santander Mexico, will present key findings from a new contact center strategy for customer authentication in a keynote presentation for Voice Biometrics Conference San Francisco (May 14-15, 2014).

With more than 3 million calls into contact centers monthly, Banco Santander Mexico is using voice biometrics as a means to identify and authenticate banking customers rather than relying on passwords and knowledge-based questions. The new strategy helps improve contact center efficiency, says Ignacio, in reducing the time it takes for agents to identify customers and helps streamline the customer experience.

As Executive Director of Channels at Banco Santander Mexico, Ignacio is in charge of the operation of state-of-the-art contact centers, Internet banking, mobile and ATM networks for a commercial bank serving 6.5 million customers. Ignacio will highlight the organizational strategy for Banco Santander Mexico in assessing new technologies for customer authentication and outline the opportunities and challenges in implementing the voice biometrics solution.

Santander México is the country’s third largest financial group by business volume, with market shares of 14.8% in deposits and 13% in loans, and the first Santander country to implement voiceprint technology.

Voice Biometrics Conference San Francisco is being held May 14-15, 2014 at the Fairmont San Francisco. To learn more about the conference agenda and early-bird registration deadlines click here.

U.S. Bank Touts Voice Biometrics for Mobile Banking App

2014 February 13
by Derek Top

usbanklogoU.S. Bank is currently piloting the use of voice biometrics as a means for user authentication in accessing its mobile app to check account balances, search transaction or make a payment. The announcement, by the fifth largest U.S. commercial bank, signifies the growing acceptance of voice biometrics as a natural method to identify users for retail banking mobile apps.

As part of the announcement, Dominic Venturo, chief innovation officer for U.S. Bank Payment Services, outlines the case for voice biometrics in improving the customer experience: “Customers are becoming accustomed to using their voice to interact with their smartphones and can become frustrated with key entering passwords. Exploring a spoken passphrase login through this technology is a logical next step in our work in biometrics,” said Venturo.

Adding the voice biometrics feature to its mobile app is an extension of a pilot by U.S. Bank last April in deploying a branded version of Nuance Communications’ Nina Mobile to support a speech-enabled mobile virtual assistant.

“Innovative organizations like U.S. Bank recognize that voice biometrics can bring a new level of convenience and security to the customer service experience,” said Robert Weideman, executive vice president and general manager of the Nuance Enterprise Division in the press release. “By eliminating the interrogation process that consumers are typically put through and replacing it with a natural, conversational voice interaction, companies can really start to reinvent their customer service experience.”

U.S. Bank oversees $364 billion in assets and operates 3,081 banking offices in 25 states and 4,906 ATMs. The company is known for it early adoption of advanced payment features, including trials of near field communications (NFC).

Dimension Data on the Value of Voice Biometrics

2014 February 3
by Derek Top

ddheader-01Interesting article up on IT News Africa where Darren Arnold, Dimension Data’s managing executive for Contact Centre Solutions, lays out the virtues of voice biometrics to solve most authentication problems. He clearly underscores the problem with current strategies of verifying one’s identity — mainly PINs and passwords — as risky and the value of voice biometrics as a technology game changer.

Arnold points out a large cellular was the first South African company to adopt voice biometrics and how JP Morgan recently authorised a transfer of US$550 million using a voice biometrics password.

But while there are clear benefits to voice biometrics technology, Arnold touches on the challenges of widespread adoption:

One of the challenges is that organisations are not clear on the difference between speech recognition technology and voice biometrics. Speech recognition technology is programmed to understand statements or questions from customer and offer a specific response. By contrast, voice biometrics works on the unique tone, resonance, pitch, and biological characteristics of a person’s voice, regardless of the words used. It is the uniqueness of each human voice that makes voice biometrics a security tool.

Based in South Africa, Dimension Data is an IT services provider that was acquired by Japanese telco NTT Group for $3.2 billion in 2010.

Voice Biometrics Conference Returns to Historic Fairmont San Francisco

2014 January 22

daf9b686f9b94201a5d253d1080691feOpus Research is pleased to announce VBC San Francisco 2014 is being held May 14-15 at the historic Fairmont San Francisco on Nob Hill.

With an emphasis on sharing real-world experiences, VBC 2014 is the premier global event showcasing the the latest developments and deployments in how companies are using voice biometrics and multi-factor authentication to support simple, secure and trusted communications. Applications span contact centers, interactive channels, and mobile devices in efforts to prevent fraud and enable secure commerce.

Since 2007, Voice Biometrics Conferences have featured executive speakers and networking opportunities among those who represent customer care, mobile commerce and security experts from banks, telecom carriers, healthcare & insurance providers, financial services, government agencies and more.

And don’t miss your chance to take advantage of a special “early” early bird registration fee of $349, half off the full-conference price (ends January 31st).

Be sure to book your room at The Fairmont San Francisco. Opus Research has guaranteed a room block for the special rate of $299/night + taxes, but space is limited.

Announcing VBC San Francisco 2014 – Call for Speakers 

2014 January 13
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125x125VBC_SF__14-15_2014Opus Research is pleased to announce Voice Biometrics Conference being held May 14-15 in San Francisco.

This premier industry event showcases the progress of technologies to support simple, secure and trusted communications and e-commerce, spanning contact centers, interactive channels and mobile devices.

Among the topics to be addressed include how companies are using voice biometrics and multi-factor authentication to:

•    Secure mobile and enterprise Virtual Assistants
•    Simplify customer authentication and access
•    Replace PINs and Passwords
•    Leverage Big Data and Analytics with Biometrics Technologies
•    Scale up e-commerce and mobile security solutions
•    Make e-government more accessible
•    Use voiceprints to prevent fraud and identity theft
•    Share best practices (for enrollment, authentication, authorization)
•    Develop new enterprise use cases (e.g. strong auth for BYOD)

To see the current agenda and for more information about VBC San Francisco 2014, click here.

Held since 2007, Voice Biometrics Conferences have featured executive speakers from diversified telecom providers (Turkcell, Avea) and banks (Barclays, Wells Fargo, Tatra Bank and others) to share their experiences and suggest best practices.

If you are interested in delivering a presentation or participating in a panel discussion, please contact Derek Top (dtop@opusresearch.net)

Or be sure to secure your spot as an attendee at the “early” early bird registration fee of $349 (ends February 1st).

AGNITiO Debuts a FIDO-ready™ Product at CES

2014 January 9

agnitio-logoDuring the past year, the FIDO Alliance has been aggressively promoting alternatives to increasingly hard-to-remember passwords. Its efforts have been amplified at this years Consumer Electronics Show (CES), including announcements from a number of providers of “FIDO-ready™” solutions. That list includes voice-biometrics specialist AGNITiO. In conjunction with fellow FIDO Alliance member Nok Nok Labs, AGNITiO demonstrated secure mobile transaction initiation relying on AGNITiO’s Voice ID software for voice-based user authentication.

The term FIDO-ready™ refers to the fact that a solution has passed the FIDO Alliance’s certification processes. This sort of conformance testing is key to the alliance efforts to promote interoperability among a diverse set of technology and service providers. The list of Alliance members includes household names like MasterCard, Google and Microsoft). In addition to Nok Nok Labs and AGNITiO, the list of companies whose products conform to the FIDO Alliance Protocol and specifications includes GO-Trust (which offers a micro-SD card for strong authentication), FingerQ (fingerprint-based authentication), Synaptics (“touch-based authentication), and Yubico (offering physical tokens that conform to FIDO’s “Universal 2nd Framework” (U2F) for two-factor solutions).

The importance of showcasing simple, strong authentication methods at CES cannot be overstated. CES 2014 is a coming out party for FIDO and it is important for its members to demonstrate working solutions and for AGNITiO to be present to show that voice biometrics are, rightfully, on par with other physical and biometric solutions.