VCG Launches Biometric Payments System

United Kingdom–based startup Voice Commerce Group (VCG) recently launched VoicePay TV, a speech-enabled payment processing service aimed at helping companies securely sell products and services over the TV, Internet, or via print ads.

The system allows businesses to place a VoicePay logo, free phone number, and unique VoicePay product code into any advertisement. When customers see an advertisement showing a desired product, they can then dial the VoicePay number and authorize the transaction via their voice.

To make purchases, consumers must create a free VoicePay account that makes use of their unique voice signatures. The account consists not only of an individual's voice biometrics but is linked to their credit cards and contains information about their purchasing history, trends, and location patterns. Once consumers have created an account, they can purchase products via VoicePay codes and a credit or debit card linked to their voice signatures.

The system will remove the need for customers to enter card information over the phone, assuaging fears of identity theft, cutting down transaction time, and giving a medium by which advertising statistics can be better tracked and measured.

"The voice signature comprises a number of different components," says Nick Ogden, founder of VCG. "It comprises a probability engine, i.e. is this person likely to be doing this type of transaction at this moment in time?...We then have a series of other checks...and then we add in, on top of all that, the use voice biometrics."

According to Ogden, consumers will be prompted to enter the VoicePay product code and state their names, as the locations of their phones and other account information is ascertained and checked.

"The final part is we ask them to give us a voice signature," Ogden says. "We've already checked their voice biometric when they first told us their name, so we already have a probability score on the identity of the person."

Depending on the type of transaction and the probability score generated by the dynamic risk engines running in real time, the final biometric sample-where the customer is asked to say "voice signature"-is tuned and tightened in relation to the level of accuracy that the risk rules require from a specific customer for a specific type of transaction.

Ogden says that if the voice biometric doesn't match or if the system suspects fraud, the call is ended and the system dials back the phone from which the call originated.

"That completely messes up anybody who is trying to do a recording...because they're not expecting that to happen," Ogden says. "It also fixes SIM spoofing issues...By doing all of that, we can achieve a 99.6 percent first-time authorization rate."

The service costs roughly $234 (£150) per year for businesses, with no transaction charges for the first $15,600 (£10,000) in sales. The VoicePay network already covers more than 50 countries, is fully integrated with Visa and MasterCard, and supports any type of payment, including e-commerce and mobile commerce.

"What advertisers are able to do is monetize immediately the existing expenditure which they're making at no cost," Ogden says, noting that VoicePay allows advertisers to test the efficacy and potential of outdoor advertisement in different locations. "They will be knowing almost in real time what the response and what the sales potential of that particular product is. There's no other technology that exists today that allows you to do that."

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