Microsoft is in talks to buy AI and voice-recognition company, Nuance Communications Inc, for approximately US$16 billion, Bloomberg reports.
It’s an interesting move as Nuance confirmed its technology was “the fundamental provider of voice recognition for Apple” back in 2013. Whether that’s a good thing or not, we’ll let you decide.
If the rumours are true, the deal with Nuance would be Microsoft’s second-biggest deal ever, coming in US$10 billion short of its $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn in 2016.
The news comes at a time when Microsoft is already spending big, with a $7.5 billion acquisition of video-game maker Zenimax Media in September 2020, and also a rumoured $10 billion bid for the video-game chat community app, Discord.
The rationale behind the move is still unknown, with neither Microsoft of Nuance commenting on the alleged takeover deal. However – other than being a big part of bringing Apple’s voice assistant, Siri, to life – Nuance has two apparent pillars of voice-recognition expertise: banking and medical.
“My voice confirms my identity”
A quick look at Nuance Communications’s What We Do? page reveals an eye-opening statistic with the claim that one U.S. bank prevented $6.2 million in fraud loss in a single year (using Nuance technology).
Other recent Nuance Communications Inc headlines also suggest VoiceID/biosecurity could be a big part of the deal.
A recent article from Channellife.com.au revealed that Nuance Communications currently holds more than 10 million voiceprints across Australia and New Zealand alone. And its technology is sophisticated enough to analyse more than 1,000 characteristics of the user’s voice to verify their identity.
The article goes on to highlight how the technology is useful for adding security and streamlining telephone banking. With Bank Australia’s chief operating officer Brad Jordon offering an example of how Nuance’s technology was being implemented in the banking world: “We are excited to offer our customers an easier and more secure way of banking with Bank Australia through our partnership with Nuance,”
“Our team will save time usually spent on repetitive authentication processes to enable greater focus on customer needs and experience without compromising on security. We take more than 400,000 calls per year, so we look forward to improving customer experience and adding this extra layer of security to their accounts.”
Nuance vice president and general manager Brett Beranek explained why his company’s technology is valuable “There has never been a greater need for biometric authentication technology and the superior fraud protection and digital experience it provides in the finance industry. Consumers are banking online more than ever before and the fraud threat is increasing as a result.”
“We are proud to partner with Bank Australia to innovate their contact centre offering their customers a simpler and more secure way to access their banking services.”