Identity Theft: The essence of Voice Biometrics

By Soko Directory Team / June 12, 2018




The Problem: Identity Theft

One of the most growing and urgent problems in Kenya that many people have is that they’ll become victims of identity theft.

In fact, Kenyans from the countryside have suffered majorly from this identity theft and they have lost a lot of money yet through wouldn’t even know what hit them. The essence of their mindset doesn’t allow them to even contemplate why.

Most people just have the “oh, well, it won’t happen to me” mindset. Hence when it happens, they shut down and move on, carrying the pain and loss in silence, without sharing to warn others about it. For 4 out of every 10 people, that’s a different mindset to take. Which one of those ten are you?

The most everyday sort of identity theft is MPESA pin frauds, usually through concern takeover. In most cases, the victim either lost their identity card and it’s hence used to compromise their MPESA pin and they have their money lost or just being careless and giving out their pin and ID number to strangers pretending to be from the telecom firm.

The rise of identity theft coupled with the desire by companies to proactively secure client data has witnessed a surge in use of voice biometrics. MPESA has led the revolution of technological advancement and this has given rise to fraudulent opportunists as is always the case.

In every changing aspect, there is always the vulnerable that fall victims to fraudulent scammers and this means the brand has the duty of care to ensure that their customers are best protected within the bounds of the law in terms of service provision.

Solution: Jitambulishe

A vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change. As we advance in technological use, the need to protect the consumer and the business, any brand must innovate, must stay steps ahead of the frauds in ways that make it difficult for them to take advantage of the vulnerable of the society.

Safaricom, in a move to protect the consumer and secure their mobile transaction, innovatively launched voice biometrics, (sometimes called voice authentication)  a type of user security that uses a customer’s voice, relying on the fact that vocal characteristics, just like fingerprints and people’s irises (eyes), are unique for each individual. This was in an effort to secure one’s mobile transaction and ensure that it’s seamless to transact without fear of frauds invading one’s phone.

It’s the latest innovation to take place at the call center in a bid to improve customer engagement and experience. When a customer calls the Call Centre, they will be able to register their voices for the voice print enrolment/ verification service. Hence the next time a customer calls and had enrolled their voice, after verification with their pre-recorded voice print – they will then be able to do SIM swaps, unlock M-PESA PIN and PUK requests using voice biometrics. This, in essence, ensures the identity of the consumer cannot be compromised by whatever reason or excuse.

Safaricom has put the consumer first and wants to improve efficiency in the call center and enhance Customer Experience on both Voice and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) due to quicker and less intrusive vetting process. As Kenyans, we love the convenience and we love to feel important.

The vetting process is always vexing and we try to pull rank and call important people we know or rush to social media to complain about the brand and how they are making it difficult for us to access our own money et al. This product eliminates all that and make the experience and process smooth and friendly.

How it works

Voice biometrics technology recognizes a person by their voice, ensuring that every interaction begins with a more human experience, eliminating the need to use PINs, passwords and security questions to log in to consumer devices, call centers, mobile apps, and Web sites.

Jitambulishe’ allows customers to use their voices for authentication before accessing assisted services such as resetting M-PESA PIN, and PUK, significantly cutting down the steps a customer goes through before they are assisted.

To activate the service, the customer’s voice patterns are captured and used to create a unique “voiceprint”, which is stored as a secure string of numbers and characters. These attributes help identify and verify callers when they call the customer care desk. This system made it possible to transcribe what a person says and how they said it by replicating the position a mouth makes when speaking a certain speech pattern.

During enrollment into the voice biometric system, one’s voice is recorded, creating what is called a voiceprint for comparison with samples taken for user identification. To enhance the security of stored samples, one may be asked to repeat pre-recorded voiceprints randomly and this is what the system uses to proof a request for entry.

Using biometric technology can quickly and easily authenticate a user and open the door for a new world of personalized service. This will also reduce Fraud/identity theft by use of a unique voice print for enrolled customers. More on the same can be found here and to those wondering how this can happen to them and ensure that their transactions are secure and they have the experience they deserve and love, you can dial 100/200 and experience it today.

Why Jitambulishe by Safaricom

Voice biometrics works by retrieving three aspects of one’s speech. First is ‘What you are saying’, which is retrieved using automatic speech recognition technology. Second is ‘How you speak’, which involves language, accent and speaking style. This is the best way to secure your identity in today’s modern age where everything and everyone can be compromised.

This is the information used by linguists and phoneticians to identify a speaker, their culture, and mood. Moreover, the most important information from one’s voice is through the vocal tract: Basically the shape of one’s larynx, mouth, and nose.

This information is particular to an individual and cannot be changed or disguised and is not dependent on language. This is the fundamental basis on which voice biometrics works.

Dr. Luka Wandanje, a linguistics instructor at GEMS Cambridge International School, says most people mimic others and can be extremely good at the art of voice deception, but can never change the deployment of vocal tract abilities.

“When one is born, just like with the fingerprints or iris, which are never same across individuals, the voice track also remains same and particular to an individual. When I speak in my native language or English, I alter my intonation or pitch, but if I have my voice captured on a biometrics tool, I won’t fool it, because the waves of the vocal tract when speaking cannot be changed”, he says.

“Because of the permanent characteristics a biometric tool measures, it cannot be fooled into thinking it is another person. Not even a cold or flu can alter this,” he adds. This is why Safaricom has invested heavily in this technology to ensure that your experience with the brand, is secure, its above board and it is seamless. Something that our desire for convenience has brought upon our lifestyles.



About Soko Directory Team

Soko Directory is a Financial and Markets digital portal that tracks brands, listed firms on the NSE, SMEs and trend setters in the markets eco-system. Find us on Facebook: facebook.com/SokoDirectory and on Twitter: twitter.com/SokoDirectory

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