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HSBC brings Touch ID and voice recognition to UK banks

Bank brings biometric security to 15 million customers in the UK

HSBC plans to use Touch ID and voice recognition software to verify the identity of its customers in the UK, as the bank looks to replace passwords and security questions with biometric technology. As the BBC reports, the services will launch in the next few weeks at First Direct, a HSBC UK subsidiary, before being rolled out to 15 million HSBC customers. Francesca McDonagh, head of retail banking and wealth management for HSBC UK, describes the move as "the largest planned rollout of voice biometric security technology in the UK."

"The launch of voice and Touch ID makes it even quicker and easier for customers to access their bank account, using the most secure form of password technology — the body," McDonagh told the BBC.

Voice recognition will work even when you're sick.

The Touch ID fingerprint scan is available on iPhones and iPads. For voice recognition, HSBC is relying on software developed by Nuance Communications, the company behind Apple's Siri virtual assistant. To use it, HSBC customers will have to record their "voice print," and Nuance's technology will analyze it for more than 100 unique identifiers. According to HSBC, the software would still work even if a user is sick.

Other banks have adopted fingerprint scans and voice recognition software to enhance user security, while the soon-to-launch Atom Bank aims to identify users with facial recognition technology. HSBC's launch is believed to be the first to combine voice and fingerprint technology in the UK. (Barclay's previously introduced voice recognition, but only for select clients.) It's not yet clear whether HSBC plans to introduce its biometric services beyond the UK.