Biometrics: An essential tool in your armoury?

Author: Simon Cadbury

As digital banking payments and other digital banking activities increasingly replace traditional banking practices, will fingerprint scanning become commonplace for mobile banking apps?

The success of Apple’s most recent iPad and iPhone models has popularised biometrics: Touch ID is now used daily by millions of users and should be an essential part of any digital banking platform.

The main benefits of biometric authentication are added security and heightened user-experience, which is why it’s no surprise that banks have started introducing biometric security systems for their customers.

Our recent research shows that these rollouts are in sync with consumer demand, with more than half (58 per cent) of consumers ready to ditch their traditional banking passwords in favour of biometric authentication methods.

Consumers love the ease of biometrics, where keeping track of multiple different passwords and PINs can become a barrier to use.

What just a few years ago seemed like a futuristic dream is now a reality, as biometrics increasingly become a part of our daily lives. Their use is also set to increase, and expand to include new systems that engage with a younger banking audience.

Fingerprint scanning for digital banking apps

In February last year, RBS and NatWest were the first UK bank to introduce fingerprint scanning for their digital banking app customers.

Those consumers who adopt Apple TouchID tend to love it and quickly get frustrated when other Apps don’t support it.

However, fingerprint authentication remains largely a privilege for the Apple device universe.

It is for this reason that many financial institutions have looked wider than TouchID, for solutions that offer parity across the different operating platforms.

HSBC and First Direct announced earlier this month that, while also offering TouchID support, they will roll out voice authentication for all their 15 million retail customers.

Digital-only bank Atom is going to let their customers log in using one of three identity credentials (face, voice and passcode). The customer can choose which method they want to use to log into the app.

However, biometrics aren’t a silver bullet.

At this year’s Mobile World Congress, a company demonstrated how certain fingerprint readers could be hacked with a fake finger made from clay.

While they used a low quality fingerprint reader, there is an important underlying message.

You need to take a progressive approach to security, using layered authentication that requires increasingly complex levels of security based on the action.

It is one thing to use a single factor of authentication, such as a fingerprint, to log into an app. It is another to enable unusual or high value transactions without additional security checks.

Certain transactions require more stringent security than biometrics alone can offer.

Biometrics provide a very exciting juncture in digital banking. They offer a more intuitive, yet also more secure, customer experience. However, financial services organisations must find the balance between usability and security.

While too much security tends to create a poor user experience, customers will be quick to blame their provider if they don’t keep their money safe.

Learn more about mobile banking in our Opinion Piece The mobile wallet already exists! It’s called mobile banking [pdf] 

17 Mar 2016

Author: Simon Cadbury

As digital banking payments and other digital banking activities increasingly replace traditional banking practices, will fingerprint scanning become commonplace for mobile banking apps?

The success of Apple’s most recent iPad and iPhone models has popularised biometrics: Touch ID is now used daily by millions of users and should be an essential part of any digital banking platform.

The main benefits of biometric authentication are added security and heightened user-experience, which is why it’s no surprise that banks have started introducing biometric security systems for their customers.

Our recent research shows that these rollouts are in sync with consumer demand, with more than half (58 per cent) of consumers ready to ditch their traditional banking passwords in favour of biometric authentication methods.

Consumers love the ease of biometrics, where keeping track of multiple different passwords and PINs can become a barrier to use.

What just a few years ago seemed like a futuristic dream is now a reality, as biometrics increasingly become a part of our daily lives. Their use is also set to increase, and expand to include new systems that engage with a younger banking audience.

Fingerprint scanning for digital banking apps

In February last year, RBS and NatWest were the first UK bank to introduce fingerprint scanning for their digital banking app customers.

Those consumers who adopt Apple TouchID tend to love it and quickly get frustrated when other Apps don’t support it.

However, fingerprint authentication remains largely a privilege for the Apple device universe.

It is for this reason that many financial institutions have looked wider than TouchID, for solutions that offer parity across the different operating platforms.

HSBC and First Direct announced earlier this month that, while also offering TouchID support, they will roll out voice authentication for all their 15 million retail customers.

Digital-only bank Atom is going to let their customers log in using one of three identity credentials (face, voice and passcode). The customer can choose which method they want to use to log into the app.

However, biometrics aren’t a silver bullet.

At this year’s Mobile World Congress, a company demonstrated how certain fingerprint readers could be hacked with a fake finger made from clay.

While they used a low quality fingerprint reader, there is an important underlying message.

You need to take a progressive approach to security, using layered authentication that requires increasingly complex levels of security based on the action.

It is one thing to use a single factor of authentication, such as a fingerprint, to log into an app. It is another to enable unusual or high value transactions without additional security checks.

Certain transactions require more stringent security than biometrics alone can offer.

Biometrics provide a very exciting juncture in digital banking. They offer a more intuitive, yet also more secure, customer experience. However, financial services organisations must find the balance between usability and security.

While too much security tends to create a poor user experience, customers will be quick to blame their provider if they don’t keep their money safe.

Learn more about mobile banking in our Opinion Piece The mobile wallet already exists! It’s called mobile banking [pdf]