Bell adds voice recognition to Dexit service

Bell Canada plans to use biometrics software to allow Dexit customers to add value to their accounts over the phone.

Dexit, which is available primarily in central

Toronto, lets users make small purchases from convenience stores and other vendors using radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, which can be attached to their key chains or Telus Mobility cell phones.

Currently, customers must make arrangements with their banks to add money to their cards.

But “”within a short number of months,”” consumers will be able to transfer money to their Dexit cards by dialing an 800 number, said Blair Makin, Bell Canada’s executive director of business networking solutions.

During a briefing to IT Business editors Thursday, Makin said the Dexit system will verify customers’ identity by recognizing their voices over the phone.

“”It will be a simple call to a voice recognition system, to say, ‘Hi, it’s Martin. Can you put another $20 into my account?’ They already know who you are by your voice pattern.””

Customers would also be able to check their accounts through the voice recognition system.

Earlier this year, Bell Canada partnered with Toronto-based Dexit Inc. for exclusive rights to market and deploy the card readers to retail outlets. At the time, Dexit had signed up about 225 merchants.

Makin said last year in Canada, consumers paid businesses nearly $3.4 trillion. About 10 per cent of that money was paid in about 60 billion transactions involving small amounts cash.

He added the main reason consumers wait for long periods in lineups at coffee shops and other retail outlets is because they’re waiting for customers in front of them to dig out their cash, and for the cashiers to give them their change.

It takes about 1.5 seconds to process Dexit transactions on the Bell network, Makin said. Other forms of electronic payment take 15 to 20 seconds, while cash payments take an average of 45 seconds, Makin added.

“”Everyone’s gone through the Tim Horton’s line, or another coffee shop,”” he said. “”A reason the lines get long is the exchange of cash, counting change and putting the money back.””

In an earlier interview with, Dexit CEO Renah Persofsky said the Bell partnership was critical to encouraging adoptin of its micropayment service.

“”What we’re really doing is working on the consumer side of a ubiquitos play, and on the merchant side we have what I believe to be the best organization to get our merchants deployed,”” she said, referring to Bell. “”They say the last mile is always the toughest and we found the right partner to deliver the last mile for us.””

The Dexit partnership is one of several pieces of Bell Canada’s strategy to use its telecom expertise to sell services to companies looking for more efficient ways of transferring money.

Another service is the Institutional Trade Management systems (ITSM), which allows large financial service firms to carry 5,000 stock trades per second over Bell Canada infrastructure.

ITMS, launched last month, is designed to integrate institutional investors’ systems with those of securities brokers in order to allow them to automate the share trading process.

Most securities trades are handled manually, through faxes, phone calls, or users manually keying in information, Makin said.

“”Beyond a few proprietary systems, there is no one single capability to go all the way from an order, from, say a fund company, all the way through to a broker, into the exchange and make the trade.””

ITMS manages stock bids and orders from inception through to settlement over Bell’s Internet Protocol network. It also allocates cash earned through stock sales to certain accounts.

In most cases, he said, ITMS can be integrated directly into brokers’ and institutional investors’ existing systems.

With manual systems, 15 per cent of orders to not close within the time specified by securities regulations, and 60 per cent of all transactions are executed with errors.

“”We looked at the way all those phone calls and faxes occurred, and we looked at a system that could make that far more efficient and secure.””

Although ITMS is used only for stock trades now, Bell Canada plans to let investors conduct bond trading through the system.

— With files from Shane Schick

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