Biometrics and beyond – future-proofing your digital banking strategy

Touch ID took an eternity to appear, and facial recognition is mostly seen as a gimmick when it comes to sensitive logins. However, over the past few years, biometrics have crept quietly onto the radar in the financial services industry, after breaking through a wall of consumer concern.

Gone are the days where identity verification for setting up a new current account or making a transaction included a walk into your nearest branch. The global biometrics market is expected to be valued at US $25bn by the year 2020, making it an industry to watch in the coming years. But how well adopted are these new-wave login methods, and what could follow them in the years ahead.

A report conducted by Accenture on ‘The future of identity in banking’ found that over 50% of customers are signed up for online banking, but of those surveyed, 40% had weak security passwords, making them highly vulnerable to cybercrime. With the rise of these threats, now more than ever, customers are in need of more safe and secure options for protecting their financial data.

More importantly, banks are in need of the tools and technology to be able to deliver these innovations. Customers now expect that, alongside joining a bank, they’ll be offered the latest in technology, and will be safeguarded with innovations that help improve security to protect their personal information. As a result, the rise in fingerprint and facial recognition innovations are becoming a standard within the industry, and those banks who aren’t soon to adopt, risk becoming obsolete, at least in the minds of customers.

The banking industry needs to continue to advocate for the rise in this technology by inspiring and instilling trust in its capabilities. While these new verification techniques aren’t completely immune to hackers, they do provide more security protection than old-school methods. Banks need to reassure consumers that the transition from branch identification, to the move into facial and fingerprint recognition, is a step in the right direction for greater security and protection. The first step in this is adopting the technology and working to improve its development in the coming years.

Some of the banks that have already made strides in the area are TSB and MasterCard. On the visual recognition side, TSB is rolling out iris scanning technology, where customers can perform banking functions by simply looking into the camera of their mobile phone. Used in the first instance for logging in, the technology uses 266 characteristics to determine exact recognition of the customer.

On the other hand, MasterCard is working to integrate biometric sensors into its chip-and-PIN bank cards that assist with faster payments through fingerprint recognition. This optical character recognition (OCR) is allowing banks to offer consumers an additional layer of security, beyond the typical password, usually easily identifiable or vulnerable to cyber threats. The rise of this technology is allowing banks the opportunity to improve their legacy systems that are stagnant and not up to date. Beyond this, banks now have a chance to implement this technology into their omni-channel strategy, rolling out these recognition techniques across their digital banking apps and online transactions.

As biometric continues to take off in the financial industry, banks must also look to the future to ensure this innovation is rolled out for various banking functions. This includes the facility to set up a new current account without having to call customer service for troubleshooting, or having to walk into the closest branch in order to verify a customer is who they say they are. Rolling these features out across all devices will be critical for future-proofing your digital banking strategy. The financial institutions that are quick to adopt and innovate on top of these new technologies will be those who remain top of mind for customers, especially in regards to ease and convenience.

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