Case study: ABN Amro

By Linda More
19 Apr 2007 View Comments
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Picture of the ABN Amro building
Customers record their own secret question and answer

Biometric voice verification security is being used by Dutch international bank ABN Amro to enable four million retail bank customers in the Netherlands to access automated telephone banking services, simply by saying their account number and a password.

Richard Molenaar, vice president of project management says this is not something the bank did in haste. ‘We wanted to enhance the customer experience. However, as the service is being used for transactions such as transferring money or purchasing shares there is no room for error,’ he says.

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‘Security is paramount – any system has to be extremely robust and meet our stringent standards.’

VoiceVault was selected for its technical capabilities and the sophistication of its underlying biometrics engine. Unlike other voice-based identification systems, it does not rely on comparing stored recordings. Using spoken words to calculate more than 110 measurements of a caller’s voice tract, these measurements are then converted into a voice print – a unique digital representation of the individual’s voice.

Identity verification is achieved through algorithms that perform more than 100 different tests to compare a previously enrolled voiceprint with one being generated at the point of verification. Using this methodology, ABN Amro can accurately verify a customer using voice alone.

An extra level of security is provided with a two-factor authentication process – something the customer is, and something the customer knows. At enrolment the caller records their own unique secret question and answer. Thereafter, when calling the bank the customer will hear their own voice asking their secret question. VoiceVault checks the answer given and uses the spoken words for biometrics voice verification.

Comprehensive trials involving some 1,450 customers and staff generated in excess of 25,000 test verifications that proved the system could meet the bank’s high security and reliability standards.

‘We looked at every way to fool the system,’ says Molenaar. ‘We used relatives with similar voices, we tried people with colds and had users calling at all different hours as your voice can change over the course of the day. We even tested callers with different types of phones and noisy backgrounds.’

Biometric voice verification has allowed ABN Amro to enhance its phone banking system and enrich customers’ experience by offering a highly personalised service that is secure, convenient to use and saves time.

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