Barclays moves away from passwords with voice technology

barclays logo and branding on a building at night

Barclays is letting its customers forget their passwords and find their voice with the introduction of vocal recognition technology that will authenticate customers’ identity.

The bank says that because each person’s voice is as unique a a fingerprint, made up of over 100 characteristics based on the physical configuration of the speaker’s mouth and throat, it can therefore be used to identify callers’ identity.

Steven Cooper, CEO of Personal Banking at Barclays, commented:

“We can all relate to the frustration of forgetting a password at the crucial moment. Voice security can cut out that part of the call completely and, unlike a password, each person’s voice is as unique as a fingerprint.”


How do customers register?

In order to register for Voice Security, customers must call Barclays telephone banking service, which will start the process of creating their voice print. The bank will then collect a sufficient voice print over the course of multiple phone calls – a minimum of two – after which the customers can opt to use voice security technology rather than a password to identify themselves.

Joanna Lumley's vocalisations have been turned into sculptures

Joanna Lumley’s vocalisations have been turned into sculptures to mark the roll out of the technology.



There are immediate benefits of having voice technology – if a customer has forgotten their password, alternative security measures take up to two minutes, says Barclays. However, with voice recognition that would not be an issue.

But, some people have questioned the technology’s timing. Only last week, the British Bankers’ Association published a report that said we’re turning to mobile apps for our banking needs, at the cost of physical branches and telephone banking. Customers are using mobile banking apps 7,610 times every minute – four billion times a year. In last year’s report, the BBA’s findings showed the number of telephone banking transactions dropping over the next five years.


In 2010, there were 85 million phone banking transactions and BBA’s findings show the amount dropping by around 10 million every half a decade.

However, Barclays has good reason to invest money in phone banking fraud prevention. According to the Financial Fraud Authority 2016 report, phone banking fraud jumped by 92% in 2015 from the previous year.

Financial Fraud Authority graph showing data for phone banking fraud

Source: Financial Fraud Authority


Have you read our interview with Barclaycard’s Head of Digital Consumer Payments, Tami Hargreaves?

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