How many passwords do you have? Chances are, you've probably lost count. Today, we use them for all our online activities -- everything from email to online shopping, dating and banking.
But as security breaches become ever more common, major companies are advising users to change their passwords on a frustratingly regular basis.
Perhaps more than any other industry, banking is prone to 'password fatigue'. Long PIN numbers, questions about your first pet, mother's maiden name and the color of your first car are commonplace when trying to access your account details either online or over the phone.
But what if you could forget all of your passwords and use just your voice? Massachusetts-based Nuance Communications is a multinational software and technology company. Its voice recognition technology has been adopted by financial institutions throughout the world, including Barclays Wealth, ING and Banco Santander México.
"It's a way for technology to identify a person by the sound of their voice," Robert Weideman, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Nuance's Enterprise Division, told CNBC.com in a phone interview.
"Unlike fingerprints, retina and other types of biometrics, it's a non-invasive form of biometrics," Weideman added. "You can develop a voice print just by listening to a person in the same way that a human can recognize a voice, except that it's far more precise and accurate."
Nuance's technology can be used by banks in several ways. Customers using telephone banking or mobile banking apps can access their account by saying a specific phrase, such as 'my voice is my password', or by having around thirty seconds of 'free formatted conversation' authenticated.
Just how safe and secure is using your voice as a password? Could a customer ever be forced, against their will, to access their account using voice biometrics?
"Unlike other biometric technologies we go beyond just the physical," Brett Beranek, Senior Manager, Solutions Marketing at Nuance's Enterprise Division, told CNBC.com in an interview.
"We're detecting a series of characteristics that are on the one hand physical but on the other hand behavioral. Your behavioral characteristics tend to be things like your accent, your rhythm of speech, the spacing you have between syllables, between words, and the list goes on," he added
"Somebody who's under duress would have a numerous number of these behavioral characteristics impacted."
Could we one day see a world where all our transactions, from stores to banks, are authenticated by just our voice?
"That is conceivable, though in banking they like to have a few factors, what's called multifactor authentication," Weideman said.
"With voice biometrics it's entirely secure, but if you add voice biometrics to a card you've got two levels of security you're leveraging for authentication. You'll find there'll probably be at least two ways to authenticate: something that you have – a card – and something that you are, a voice," he added.