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Barclays will offer voice recognition software that will the identity of telephone banking customers to be verified automatically, bringing to an end the need to rely on lengthy security passwords.

Barclays is to use voice recognition software that can automatically verify telephone banking customers' identities, bringing to an end the need to rely on lengthy security passwords.

The FreeSpeech voice biometrics system from Nuance allows Barclays staff to recognise a customer based on their speech patterns, and will be available from early next year.

The tool had previously been used by Barclays’ wealth and investment management division, and will soon be offered to all 12 million retail banking customers, the bank said. 

The system works by recording a customer’s voice when they sign up to the service, and storing it in a secure database. When the customer calls back in future, their speech pattern biometrics are matched with the previous recording, and the call centre staff are alerted that the identity has been verified. 

Currently, customers speaking to bank staff are required to provide a 16-digit debit card number or a banking passcode, which can take over a minute. According to Sunday Telegraph, Barclays claims the use of the voice recognition software is "foolproof" and can reduce the verification time to under 10 seconds.

Barclays customers will be able to opt-out of the service if they wish, and continue to on the traditional verification method.