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Your Quick Guide to Voice Biometrics in Banking

By Daisy McCarty, Head of Marketing, Illuma
September 8, 2023

The world of banking is rapidly evolving. With advancements in technology, the financial industry is embracing innovative solutions to enhance security and streamline processes. With fraud attacks becoming increasingly sophisticated, using security Q&A to verify the identity of account holders is simply too risky. The use of voice biometrics in banking is becoming increasingly common to combat fraud attempts and remove friction from the end user experience.

By using unique vocal characteristics to authenticate callers, credit unions and banks of all sizes are revolutionizing the way they safeguard customer accounts and provide seamless user experiences.

What Is Voice Biometrics?

Voice biometrics is a branch of biometric authentication that focuses on analyzing and recognizing a person's unique vocal patterns, such as pitch, tone, cadence and pronunciation. Each individual's voice is as distinct as their fingerprint, making it an ideal method for identity verification for telephone interactions where voice is the primary communication channel. This is true even for closely related individuals whose voices may sound similar to the human ear. To create a voiceprint or AudioPrint™, a voice authentication system captures the caller's voice during an enrollment process, which serves as a baseline for future comparisons.

Active vs. Passive Voice Authentication in Banking

  • With active voice authentication, a caller must repeat a specific passphrase for a match to be accomplished. A common example would be, “My voice is my password.”
  • With passive voice authentication, the caller can simply speak in natural conversation and a sophisticated algorithm will match the characteristics regardless of the words (or the language) being spoken.

The Role of Voice Biometrics in Banking

Enhanced Account Security: Traditional authentication methods, such as PINs and passwords or security questions, are susceptible to breaches due to the rising sophistication of cyberattacks and social engineering. Voice verification, on the other hand, provides an additional layer of security that is extremely difficult for fraudsters to penetrate. With voice authentication, bank and credit union customers and members are protected from unauthorized access to sensitive information and financial losses.

Frictionless User Experience: Voice biometrics streamlines the authentication process, eliminating the need for callers to remember anything or receive a one-time passcode (OTP). With just their voice, customers and members can securely access their accounts, perform transactions, and interact with the contact center agents, enhancing the overall user experience.

Personalization and Trust: In a world where digital interactions are becoming increasingly prevalent, consumers often seek a sense of personalization and trust. Voice biometrics fosters this by recognizing individuals and tailoring services to their preferences, ultimately building stronger relationships between consumers and their banking institutions. Voice verification recognizes consumers on the phone by their voice instead of making them prove who they are with a minute or more of Q&A.

What to Consider Before Deploying Voice Biometrics

Voice biometrics holds great promise. But for a banking institution, voice authentication solutions must meet high standards to reduce risk, improve customer or member experience, and increase operational efficiency.

Accuracy: Voice biometric systems must be highly accurate to limit false rejections or acceptances. Not all voice authentication solutions have the same level of accuracy. The best platforms leverage machine learning to continuously improve the algorithm and allow fine tuning for the highest level of accuracy.

Learn how passive voice authentication battles the threat of “deep fake” voice mimicry.

Data Privacy: As with any biometric system, banks and credit unions must address concerns regarding data privacy and security. Robust encryption and stringent data protection measures are vital to ensure that voiceprints are stored securely and used solely for authentication purposes. Biometric data has its own rules and regulations that can vary by state.

Download our white paper on voice biometrics privacy laws covering each state.

User Acceptance: Some customers or members may be hesitant to adopt voice biometrics due to concerns about its reliability or potential misuse. Comprehensive education and communication about the technology's benefits, security features and transparent usage policies are essential to promote widespread adoption.

More than 90% of accountholders agree to enroll in Illuma Shield™ passive voice authentication.

Cost & Effort: Pricing and implementation effort factors can’t be ignored in the discussion of voice biometrics in banking. However, many community financial institutions abandon their quest to add voice authentication to their call centers due to high costs and lengthy deployments.

Fortunately, Illuma offers a right-sized offering that is suitable for community banks and credit unions. It provides top-of-the-line voice verification software without requiring a million-dollar budget or six to twelve months of IT resources devoted to a complex roll out.

Explore the Kind of Voice Authentication Bank Customers and Credit Union Members Love

Voice biometrics is a game-changer for the banking industry, offering an unparalleled combination of security and convenience. As technology continues to mature and improve, banking institutions will witness a transformation in customer and member interactions, fraud prevention and overall operational efficiency.

Implementing Illuma Shield™ drives improvements across many key metrics for banking call centers. On average, the time spent on verification is cut by at least 85%. Additional benefits include:

  • Shorter average call handle time
  • Reduced hold times
  • Higher agent productivity
  • Better customer and member satisfaction
  • Decrease in call escalations
  • Protect against account takeovers

With voice authentication, banking is more secure and seamless for bank customers and credit union members. To learn more, connect with Illuma for a demo.


About Illuma

Illuma, a Credit Union Service Organization (CUSO), specializes in voice authentication software that replaces traditional knowledge-based authentication practices in call centers. Illuma provides frictionless voice authentication and fraud prevention for credit union contact centers to substantially reduce call handle times, improve member experience, and increase account security. 

The company’s platform, Illuma Shield™, continuously analyzes the unique characteristics of the speaker’s voice and calling device using state-of-the-art Signal Processing, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence. This proprietary voice authentication system rapidly and seamlessly validates the identity of callers during natural conversation without requiring security Q&A or spoken password phrases.