At Vodacom, your voice is your password


South African mobile operator Vodacom has unveiled a new service that allows its customers to use their voice as a password when calling in for assistance or using the operator’s app. In other words, rather than having to endure a lengthy identity confirmation process users can utter a predetermined phrase to prove their identity, which is a lot easier than having to quote ID numbers, mothers’ maiden names, first crushes and the like.

The new service, called Voice Password, uses a third-party voice biometrics engine from voice-recognition company Nuance to verify users’ identity. In order to use the service, customers need to set it up via the My Vodacom app or by calling the operator’s customer care call centre (082 111).

Vodacom LogoDuring the setup process users are asked to repeat specific phrases, say certain words and count to ten so that the system can create a sample “voiceprint”. Thereafter, users need only repeat a pass-phrase, which the system then verifies against the recorded voiceprint.

Vodacom says the nature of the human voice means that the service will work even if the user has a cold or some other affliction that affects their normal speaking voice because the unique identifiers in a persons voice are still there in such instances.

Of course, if the system doesn’t recognise the user for whatever reason they can still confirm their identity by providing the sorts of information identity checks usually entail.

Dee Nel, managing executive at Vodacom customer care says confirming identity “can be a tedious experience” and that while it’s “always been a necessary” it’s a “somewhat inconvenient process”.

“Voice Password changes this and gives Vodacom customers a simpler, worry-free customer experience. It’s a great example of using technology in a win-win, increasing convenience and at the same time improving security,” Nel adds.

The operator also plans to use Voice Password with additional services in future and says that this is in line with the increasing focus on combatting identity theft and fraud.

Voice Password is available to all Android users using the My Vodacom app (which can be downloaded from Google Play). Vodacom says an iOS version for Apple devices will be launched soon. The service is only available to English-speakers for now, but this will be extended to other languages soon.


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