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HMRC rolls out voice recognition technology

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HMRC rolls out voice recognition technology

January 2017

Taxation body Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has announced that it is to roll out new voice recognition technology as of this month, which is aimed at speeding up and improving identification confirmation for customers using HMRC helplines. 

Customers calling the HMRC tax credits and Self Assessment helplines will be able to enrol for the new voice identification (Voice ID) system, which will make it easier to confirm their identity while on the phone. The new biometric technology will enable users to pass through the various security steps that are in place when calling HMRC, the body confirmed.

Customers will be asked to repeat a passphrase as many as five times before being routed back to an adviser, who will then securely store the recorded phrase. This step will mean that, the next time the customer calls the HMRC helpline, the phrase will be used to help confirm their identity. If customers do not wish to use the new Voice ID service, they can opt-out and continue to use the taxation body's services in the normal way.

Ruth Owen, director general for customer services, said: “Millions of our customers are choosing to use our digital services rather than picking up a phone or pen, with more joining them every day. But we know that not everyone can, or wants to, deal with us online, and so we’re continuing to improve our services across all contact channels.

“Voice ID is the latest example of the cutting-edge technology we are using to make it easier for people to manage their tax and tax credits," added Ms Owen.

At the start of the roll out, the taxation body has confirmed that it will be building a ‘bank' of customer passphrases prior to fully implementing the biometric system for all users, meaning that it may be some weeks between the customer enrolling to use the service and it actually being able to be used.

The new system makes use of more than 100 characteristics found in a persons voice before deciding whether it is a match or not, with HMRC confirming that the technology in use is 'well-proven.'

Ms Owen said that the implementation of the new system was all part of an ongoing drive to offer HMRC customers who want to make use of the body's phone system more advanced digital technologies.

The implementation of voice ID services follows on from the body's move to allow fingerprint scanning technology for its mobile app through Apple's TouchID service on iPhones and iPads, as well as offering up equivalent services on Android devices.

The body also confirmed that it was planning to bring the same capability to its Windows app over the course of this year.

Ploughshare has developments in voice recognition currently available for license that can improve matching accuracy in noisy environments

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