How Improved Biometrics Are Driving Convenience & Security Improvements in Digital Banking

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Implementing biometrics can help banks and credit unions over the convenience consumers expect while providing stricter security measures. Read this week's blog to learn more. 

In the digital world, the consumer expects to have it all – the utmost in convenience and accessibility, but also maximum privacy and security. The challenge, however, is that those things don’t always naturally fit together. In digital banking, security requires that customers uniquely identify themselves, and to achieve this, many financial institutions are turning to biometrics.

An average user has to remember at least seven strong passwords today to access critical information, according to Zighra, while smartphone users are 33 percent more likely to be victims of identity theft. Convenience has always topped security for consumers, but recent innovations may be able to provide both. Companies like Apple, Google and Amazon are moving us toward a password-free society by incorporating biometrics.

The technological tracking and analysis of people’s physical or behavioral characteristics represents the step that can both elevate convenience and security within the digital environment. A fingerprint – or even a facial scan – is a quick and effective method to advance a bank or credit union’s goal of providing customers and members with a safe, friction-less user experience.

On the heels of the Equifax data breach, it’s frankly never been more important for institutions to ensure that a criminal isn’t posing as a customer to access that person’s sensitive account information. While server-based biometrics can be susceptible to hacks – more than 5.6 million Office of Personnel Management’s employee fingerprint records were compromised in the summer of 2015 – by combining biometrics with other advanced security measures (like device authentication and/or other data gathered across multiple data points), financial institutions are better equipped to protect their mobile and digital banking customers.

Biometrics, especially when paired with additional data points, is particularly effective. For example, one might assume that simply forging another’s signature would be relatively easy. However, when you factor in other data points, such as the pressure and angle of the pen, as well as the speed and flow of the script, it becomes extremely difficult to duplicate. This type of correlation moves biometrics into the realm of “behaviormetrics,” a topic written on previously in the 270 Degree blog

This application of technology to provide improved methods of security while also increasing convenience is evidence of the focus on the user experience spreading across the various touchpoints in our digital world. For example, consider the virtual assistants war being waged by many of the large tech firms and the fact that person’s voice follows a distinct pattern and cadence. 

Technology designed to accurately capture dictation by any person has reached new levels of accuracy, according to Mary Meeker from the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, speaking at the 2017 Code Conference. As today’s manually-driven UX begins to fade in favor of a voice-driven version, voice authentication seems likely to become the preferred method for protecting sensitive data. After all, who wants to have the freedom and efficiency of a voice interface only to then be asked to give a thumbprint, position the face for scanning etc. 

There are other technology frontiers currently being explored and though most financial institutions have not been very vocal about some of them, e.g., the Internet of Things (IoT), banks and credit unions will want to participate in them and by doing so will be facing new risks and vulnerabilities in such environments. Biometrics – especially voice authentication – and behaviormetrics represent excellent tools for exploring these new frontiers in a safer, more secure fashion.