Dan Miller, OpusResearch: Sberbank’s “Lie Detecting” ATM May be the Ultimate “Onboarding” Kiosk

Reaction to the alleged “Lie Detecting ATMs” being tested by Russia’s largest commercial bank, Sberbank, gives an eerie preview to the public’s acceptance of self-service kiosks in the future. Reporters and analysts have had a field day in The New York TimesChristian Science Monitor and elsewhere. What reporters term “a KGB fantasy” is better characterized as the ultimate enrollment system for banking customers, but it has profound implications for “onboarding” systems for employers, government agencies or payment card issuers.

Sensationalism makes headlines, but what is lost in the coverage is that Russia’s largest bank has been testing and is ready to deploy an ATM-like kiosk that will be able to scan passports, record voices, capture fingerprints, perform a 3D facial recognition scan as part of a registration process. The ability to use this data to prevent future fraudulent access went almost unnoticed.

As for the use of speech processing technology from SpeechPro (aka Speech Technology Center or STC), Anna Belash, who heads Marketing Communications at the company explained in a post, that the existing prototype is using speech recognition and text-to-speech synthesis along with speaker recognition to provide a way for individuals to use their voice to navigate through the process of using the ATM. As she said, “it’s a kind of speech-enabled IVR.”

The ATM will employ speaker recognition and authentication if needed “to ensure higher security level while accessing to confidential data.” In other words, the unique deployment for Sberbank – combining speech recognition, speaker recognition and emotion detection is not designed to be spooky or invasive. “It is just one more step forward the creation of humanlike systems that speak to the clients, understand and recognize a speaker.”

What’s different is the incorporation of emotion detection in the enrollment process, which is probably a very good idea if enrollments are going to be conducted without human assistance or supervision. The machine will be able to talk with the prospective enrollee (and later on the client) in plain Russian, and will be able to autenticate his or her unique voiceprint while, at the same time, test voice levels for signs of nervousness, anger, or deceit.

The potential scale of this deployment is impressive. According to the newspaper reports, Sberbank has the largest branch network in Russia with more than 19,100 retail outlets in 3,800 cities. It operates a network of about 28,000 ATMs and 17,000 payment terminals.

Dan Miller, OpusResearch