Safaricom introduces voice biometrics to enhance customer experience while curbing identity theft


Safaricom has introduced a dynamic voice biometrics system that will enable customers to access services through a quicker and less intrusive vetting process protecting them against identity theft and reducing fraud.

The new system dubbed “Jitambulishe “ meaning identify yourself allows customers to use their voices for authentication before accessing assisted services such as resetting M-PESA PIN, and PUK requests, significantly cutting down the steps a customer goes through before they are assisted.

“We are redesigning our customer care approach to remain in line with shifting trends in the market and to take advantage of emerging technologies,” said Joseph Ogutu, Director – Strategy, Safaricom.

To be functional, a pre-recorded registration process will be done. The encryption process will ensure no reverse engineering can be used to hack into the system and pose as another person. Voice recordings are not stored – which means Safaricom’s usual strict protection of customer data is upheld.

To activate the service, the customer’s voice patterns are captured and used to create a unique “voiceprint” (similar in concept to a fingerprint), storing it as a secure string of numbers and characters. These attributes help identify and verify callers when they call for customer care.

“Our contact centre agents spend a greater portion of their call time verifying customers over phone. The introduction of this service will ensure that customers get faster and more accurate services. We anticipate that the number of fraud incidents shall also reduce as a result,” said Mr. Ogutu.

The new voice update comes a week after Safaricom launched an Interactive Voice Response platform for visually impaired customers under its MPESA service.

The platform will initially allow them to query their M-PESA balances, with additional M-PESA services gradually being introduced in coming months.

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