Traditionally, banks have been burdened with high regulations and slow processes. Mobile is completely changing all of that. Mobile has quickly forced banks to catch up with their customers and embrace mobile apps. According to an inforgraphic produced by analytics solutions provider FICO, one billion people are projected to use mobile banking by 2017. Banks are continually innovating and improving their mobile services and even incorporating voice recognition.
The way users engage with mobile applications is completely different than the way they engage with websites. In this context, mobile testing has never been more important to ensure that users have a positive experience. With more customers conducting banking on their mobile devices, including the use of voice recognition, banks need to do their due diligence and choose the right technology partners and testing solutions before incorporating audio into their mobile applications.
The unique challenges that voice recognition poses for banks includes the need to support a full mobile environment, the integration of audio into the application, preparing the app for the real world under various network conditions, and addressing various security considerations.
The Benefits of Voice Recognition in Mobile Banking
Most major banks today offer their end-users a set of robust and feature-rich mobile applications running on Android, iOS and other operating systems. According to Gartner’s Hype cycle for consumer services and mobile applications report, July 2012, mobile banking is expected to reach the "plateau of productivity" in less than two years . As new technologies continue to emerge, banks seek ways to take advantage of these technologies to offer their end-users more appealing services that would enhance engagement and increase the use of these services.
Two of the more appealing technologies that banks are focusing on with respect to mobile applications are voice recognition/authentication (aka IVA – Interactive voice assistant) and biometrics.
These technologies complement the payment cards and near field communication (NFC), which were under development and in use over the past few years. The main reasons that banks are investing in voice and biometrics are to enhance the user experience and to bolster security. Voice recognition authentication and biometrics will be the way for banking customers to securely log into mobile banking. At the same time, it is well known that security and convenience do not usually go together. When it comes to mobile banking, banks are trying to ease the pain for end users without compromising security.
ING Direct Canada is currently running a pilot project to test the use of biometrics and voice authentication. According to the bank's CIO, the main advantage of these promising technologies is the fact that they are very difficult to break and thus are a highly secure method to authenticate login to their banking services.
The following use case is taken from USAA bank mobile banking application. As you can see, USAA is using voice commands to perform functions beyond secure login to the application.
The most efficient way to authenticate the end-user's voice is to have a pre-recorded individual voiceprint on file. One of the companies that provide voice recognition solutions to banks is Nuance. When the user starts to work with a mobile application, the system compares the user's voice against the recorded voice file stored and managed securely by the bank. If there is an exact match, the end-user is allowed to login and work with the application. Otherwise, the user will be re-directed to the bank's technical support department for secure validation of the person’s identity (e.g., answer secure pre-defined questions, etc.)
Another example of a major bank that took steps toward enabling voice recognition services is Barclays Bank. Matt Smallman of Barclays Wealth and Investment Management stated that the use of voice recognition technologies is a boon for both the bank and its customers: “It increases security and convenience at the same time whilst making client calls shorter and reducing our overall cost to serve."
With the growing usage of mobile banking, voice recognition seems like a great way to serve the customer base while saving costs on manpower that would have been required to support key transactions over the phone. It reduces the need for long phone calls with bank support in which clients need to answer and remember intrusive security related questions. A simple voice capture at the beginning of the call will get them to the right service person.