Barclays Wealth & Investment Management announced Wednesday the deployment of voice biometric technology from Nuance Communications Inc. The technology lets customers authenticate themselves with the sound of their voice rather than having to answer security questions to prove they are who they say they are. Barclays is the first financial services firm to deploy passive voice biometrics as the primary method to authenticate customers in their call centers, said Nuance.

Nuance (NUAN) sells voice and language products and services to businesses and consumers. Nuance also counts USAA and U.S. Bank as clients.  

In Barclays' call centers, Nuance needs to hear about 20 to 30 seconds of natural conversation in order to verify a customer’s identity when he calls an agent. During that timeframe, Nuance compares the customer’s voice to his voiceprint on file. Once confirmed, Nuance will send a silent signal to the Barclays representative to proceed, according to the firm. If an identity isn’t confirmed, the agent can prompt the customer to answer knowledge-based questions to proceed.

“In this competitive environment we need to make sure that clients’ needs for convenience and ease of access are effectively balanced with our mutual need for security,” said Matt Smallman, who leads the Client Experience Strategy and Change team for Wealth and Investment Management at Barclays, in a press release.

In tandem with the Barclays announcement, Nuance released research that found the majority of people are dissatisfied with current authentication methods. Granted the data comes from a vendor that sells an authentication product, BTN has come across similar research results that point to the challenges of recalling passwords and answering security questions.