Can Voice Authentication Tip The Mobile Payments Scale?

Could it be that the best way to authenticate the consumer is by leveraging two things that everyone has — their voice and a mobile phone?

That’s inspiration for one company: SayPay, a voice recognition and biometric authentication solutions provider for financial transactions. It uses its tech and its one-time cryptotoken to process transactions via a mobile app.

CEO Steven Hoffman tells PYMNTS that “SayPay Code” is the one-time password that consumers of its authentication technology must establish in order to “bind” the details of financial transactions with the user in order for a secure mobile transaction to be made.

SayPay Payments, available as an in-house deployment or a cloud-based service, doesn’t send financial data to the merchant, which means account and card numbers remain out of reach of merchant point-of-sale systems.

“I’d like to think of us more as an authentication company; biometrics plays a major role in what we do,” Hoffman explained.

What that SayPay payment experience enables for the consumer is the ability to initiate, authenticate and authorize a transaction — all without having to sign in (and remember that major pain point: a password). Instead, its one-time cryptotoken — the SayPay Code — handles the necessary security protocols for every authentication.

But that’s just the beginning of where he thinks the biometrics market is headed.

“We’ve learned that there are some great opportunities beyond what we originally thought, but we’re still very much behind biometrics, especially voice,” Hoffman said.


Market Opportunities

SayPay’s team sees its technology as something with worldwide appeal since it can be applied across technologies, including emerging markets that have access to mobile devices but not apps and Touch ID given the dearth of smartphones in those markets. Hoffman noted that voice is one biometric that has the power to go much further than traditional modes (fingerprints, facial scans, etc.) given its dynamic nature.

“The really special thing about voice is that it’s the only biometric that is dynamic in nature,” Hoffman said. “It allows you to speak something different each time but still using your own biometric properties. All the rest are snapshots of what you are at a point in time (face, eye, fingerprint, etc.).”

Still, Hoffman contends, the future of biometrics is taking one biometric and binding it with another to make the transaction more secure and harder for fraudsters to replicate.

“We believe that multimodal biometrics are going to play a major role going forward. We are very excited to see what’s next in facial recognition. We will be supporting fingerprint as well. We do think fingerprint plays a role in certain authentication needs, like a simple login,” Hoffman said.

Being able to combine that with multimodal biometrics, Hoffman believes, raises the bar and provides a more inherently secure solution.


The Growing Mobile Payments Biometrics Market

SayPay isn’t the only player testing the biometric authentication waters. MasterCard and Alibaba are running trials of “selfie pay” tech. Amazon with Alexa is a voice-enabled commerce and financial services platform that leverages voice and existing credentials to enable commerce.

Touch ID and its counterparts using fingerprints, of course, remain the most common form of biometric enablement. As for that particular technology, it’s being used increasingly in mobile apps, such as mobile banking apps, to enable users to authenticate their identity without the need to use a password.

Which shows that, in the end, regardless of which biometric tech is being implemented, one thing is clear: Passwords are out, and biometrics are in.

And that’s one thing SayPay and the rest of the players in the mobile payments space are betting big on.