ING Netherlands launches voice-recognition banking app

Dutch banking group ING Netherlands has launched a banking application which uses voice recognition for navigation

Dutch banking group ING Netherlands has launched a banking application that can be navigated using voice recognition.

The firm hopes future generations of the app will use biometric voice recognition for user authentication to replace PINs.

Max Mouwen, director of Internet and Mobile, ING Netherlands said: “The mobile phone is becoming the starting point for banking today. Already 1.9 million of our eight million customers use our mobile banking app today. 

"We want to deliver an easy experience for our customers who are accessing their accounts via our mobile app.”

The application, Inge, uses Nuance’s voice-recognition software, Nina, to allow customers to control actions on the app by using voice commands. By integrating Nuance’s software with the app, customers can talk to their app as they would a person. 

For exmaple, users can ask the app where their nearest branch is, or to pay someone in their contact book.

According to the bank, the application is the first in Europe to be controlled by voice. The aim is to offer customers a hands-free alternative to traditional on-screen commands used for banking applications.

Seb Reeve, director product management in Europe at Nuance Communications, said: “We don’t get up out of bed in the morning wanting to spend vast amounts of time conducting banking transactions.”

Eventually the app will replace its current PIN system with biometric voice recognition to allow customers to log into the app with a key question issued by the bank itself to ensure the authentication process is hands-free and secure.

The software uses a combination of vocal characteristics such as accents, and sounds made by the physical shape of your throat to identify you.

Reeve said: “Our biometrics systems have never been broken into and they’re in wide use over quite a long period of time now. In mobile this is fairly new as a way of logging into a mobile application, but it's been used in the contact centre and in other use cases for a lot of years.”

Barclays has recently launched a number of biometric solutions for their customers, including finger vein scanners and voice authentication technology.

But some alternative payment and banking methods are seeing slow adoption because they do not solve a real consumer problem.

Reeve concluded: “This is about banks taking a very customer-centric view of how banking should be moving forward and how easy it should be to do business with a bank.”

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