Interview: Julia Webb, VP Marketing, Voice Vault

Peter O’Neill from Mobile ID World speaks with Julia Webb, VP Marketing, VoiceVault

julia webbvoicevault-logoRegular readers of Mobile ID World will no doubt be aware that voice biometrics are hot in terms of strong mobile authentication, particularly in the mCommerce market. VoiceVault – a company that provides voice recognition solutions for mobile, on-device and telephony applications – is benefiting from this, as well as the recent mainstreaming of smartphone biometrics.

VoiceVault just recently launched ViGo: a software solution designed for developers that puts voice recognition in the palm of your hand (a demo of which is available on VoiceVault’s website). Peter O’Neill, president of Mobile ID World (MIDW), had a chance to interview VoiceVault’s vice president of marketing, Juila Webb (VV), about ViGo, the key drivers in mobile voice biometrics and what it means to create a solution targeted at the developer market.

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MIDW: What a year for mobility! You just launched ViGo, designed for the mobile developer market. Can you please tell us about this new product?

VV: We are very excited about ViGo. It provides a complete voice biometrics ecosystem to facilitate the inclusion of voice biometrics in mobile apps. What that means is, we are providing developer friendly resources for rapid application development. We offer a free developer license for our cloud based authentication platform, which leverages Amazon Web Services, allowing developers to build out an app with voice biometrics for testing purposes. We also provide sample iOS and Android code to enable developers to stand up the app literally within a matter of hours. ViGo is 100 percent focused on mobile and is preconfigured based on production deployment settings utilized by top global banks and other Fortune 500 organizations. The other thing we did with ViGo is made the entry price point quite attractive so the initial production license fee for ViGo is only $7,500 per year.

MIDW: You mentioned the financial marketplace, what other vertical markets do you think developers will be utilizing this technology for?

VV: Let’s start with the financial marketplace and what happened there with voice biometrics and mobile apps in 2012, then talk about how the use cases have evolved. I don’t know if you realize it Peter but, VoiceVault’s solution was actually the first voice biometric solution deployed in a mobile app with global reach; that deployment was with JP Morgan Chase. JP Morgan’s use case required an additional authentication factor for their mobile app, “Access Mobile,” both for login and for the release of payments; ACH payments and wire transfers. Initially launched in 2012, “Access Mobile,” featuring voice biometrics, is now deployed in 40 countries. Seeing the global adoption of voice biometrics in mobile applications was the catalyst for developing a solution like ViGo. Since launching ViGo just over a month ago, we have seen a number of apps leveraging voice biometrics, including time and attendance apps. Time and attendance being quite broad but, a sample use case is the documentation of individuals providing home healthcare facilitated through an app that allows them to clock in or out when they arrive at a client’s home and log services rendered using voice biometrics and GPS. We are also seeing developers stand up apps that leverage Google Glass and require authentication for who is able to view either streaming video or medical applications from it, to mobile gaming and other public sector applications.

MIDW: I think it is very smart the way you have approached the developer market because what I think you will find is that when you put a solid product such as this into the market and people such as developers will utilize it in areas that you never thought at all about and that is a wonderful part of where biometrics is now and products like yours. Once they are in the marketplace new areas are found all the time.

VV: Absolutely, and as you said, we started with financial services and healthcare and now there are applications of voice biometric in apps for things like data security, in app payments and turning your smart device into a credential. So things we might not necessarily have thought of in the mobile domain.

MIDW: Can you review your product in the enterprise and call center markets as well for us?

VV: Sure, aside from our mobile solution, ViGo, which we have already discussed, VoiceVault offers voice biometrics solutions for on device and telephony applications. Our on device solution is an embedded offering that allows any smart device, such as a smart TV, the capability to verify an individual’s identity through the device instead of the cloud.  Our telephony applications for the call center are a traditional integration with IVR platforms designed to reduce agent handling time and increase customer satisfaction by providing a self-service environment that replaces things like KBA (knowledge base authentication) to authenticate callers quickly and seamlessly and get them the information they require.

MIDW: Now you recently joined the FIDO Alliance. What prompted that move?

VV: The main prompt for that move was again the adoption that we are seeing for voice biometrics in the mobile domain and in particular payment applications. We think that FIDO is an important player in that space and is setting certain standards that will involve voice biometrics down the line.

MIDW: Voice biometrics has actually become quite a hot area in the last few years. You mentioned the financial sphere, but what have been the key drivers pushing voice biometrics?

VV: One of the main drivers we have seen in mobile apps for financial services is the consumer’s desire to add additional functionality to their mobile applications. Meaning, for their banking app, consumers want the ability to do more than just to see their balance, they want to be able to make transfers of money between accounts and to make payments. To offer that type of functionality within consumer apps, the financial institutions need to provide some level of advanced authentication. Traditionally, that advanced authentication for web type transactions has been things like an RSA token but, utilizing a token in the context of a mobile application just doesn’t make sense. It is not convenient to have multiple devices to carry around so, voice biometrics is a very natural fit for providing advanced authentication for higher risk mobile application transactions such as payments. The other thing that has also been a catalyst for voice biometrics in general but, again in particular for mobile apps, is the adoption of on device fingerprint biometrics by Apple and Samsung which has increased the comfort level of the public in general with biometrics. But, of course, with voice biometrics you don’t require any specialized hardware so it is something that can be utilized for advanced authentication across a much larger population. Also, I think another catalyst that we have seen is that consumers are more willing to spend a couple more seconds on authentication given recent enterprise fraud cases like Target. Consumers are increasingly aware of the value that advanced authentication can bring to them and to protect their identity.

MIDW: Where globally are you seeing the greatest growth?

VV: Our primary market right now is the US, however, as I mentioned when we worked with our enterprise customers like JP Morgan, while the customer relationship is here in the US, the actual deployment of their solutions, their mobile apps that includes voice biometrics, goes out globally. So, we are seeing that a lot of the decision making is happening in the US but, the solutions that these groups are standing up and mobile applications are really global solutions.

MIDW: Julia thank you very much for spending some time describing your new launch of the ViGo product and I look forward to hearing more about your success in the coming months. And thank you again for taking the time to speak with us today.

VV: Thank you Peter it is always a pleasure to talk with you.