by Bonnie Gardiner

ATO rolls out voice biometrics for online services

Jan 22, 2016

The Australian Tax Office has integrated voice biometric technology into its mobile app, allowing taxpayers to quickly and easily prove their identity when engaging with the ATO’s suite of online services.

The new extension of voice authentication services comes after last year’s roll out of voice biometrics for taxpayers when calling the ATO contact centre.

This second-phase implementation now offers taxpayers voice authentication across all of the ATO’s online services, accessible through the ATO app, making it the first organisation to implement a multi-channel process of this kind.

The ATO aims to improve the overall experience across the contact centre and mobile app for taxpayers, removing the need to answer security questions or enter lengthy usernames and passwords. More than 1.5 million people have already enrolled a voiceprint, according to the tax office.

The ATO receives approximately 7.2 million calls from taxpayers per year. Previously, around 76 per cent of these calls required an ATO agent to verify the caller’s identity, at a cost of 75,000 hours of agents’ and customers’ time each year.

The contact centre experience has improved since roll-out, with repeat callers experiencing a 40-45 second reduction in the average time that they are on the phone with an agent, gaining access to their personal records faster.

Voice biometrics has been found to be a more effective security solution than traditional authentication methods such as PINs, passwords, security questions and even physical tokens, in part because voiceprints are less valuable to hackers.

“The ATO is committed to delivering a contemporary digital experience for our clients and feedback has shown an overwhelming acceptance of voice biometrics in the call centre, making it a natural next step to bring this ease of access to the mobile app,” said ATO assistant commissioner, John Dardo.

“Voice biometrics solutions have made the authentication process more convenient for taxpayers and service agents via the ATO mobile app. We’re proud to be the first organisation to provide this type of innovative mobile experience for our clients,” he said.