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Expert opinion

Why banking customers are ready for biometrics

Friday 12 October 2018 | 09:46 AM CET

Alexey Khitrov, CEO of ID R&D, delineates the evolution of biometric technology and its benefits for both customers and banks

Biometric tech has long captured our collective imagination as the state-of-the-art way for achieving more secure systems that unequivocally prove that you are, well…you. At the same time, the banking and fintech sector requires particularly stalwart security measures given the highly sensitive data they keep at a time when technology and talent aimed at stealing that data is becoming increasingly sophisticated. Long-built customer trust can be destroyed in minutes.

However, while biometrics have been available and enjoyed public awareness, the banking industry hasn’t made major strides toward mainstream adoption in customer interfaces until recently. Why is this happening now? First, the public, thanks to Alexa, Siri and other digital assistants, is simply more familiar with biometrics. Second, the technology has advanced to the point where it requires no extra efforts on behalf of the end user, making the authentication experience both robustly secure and frankly, pleasant.

Banking customers are increasingly comfortable with biometric interfaces

While the public has historically been reluctant to opt for interfaces where their voices, faces, or thumbprints can act as a password and grant them access, steady exposure to biometrics in consumer-facing products such as mobile phones and virtual assistants has hastened broader acceptance of the technology. A recent study by IBM found that 67 percent of us are comfortable using biometric authentication today, and 87 percent say they’ll be comfortable with the technology in the future.

In juxtaposition, the password-based security that currently protects customers’ banking transactions is both tedious from a UX perspective, and less secure. Unwieldy passwords, time-consuming multi-factor authentication processes, and too easily forgotten security questions are as common as they are annoying. At the same time, consumers have to spend time and effort to safeguard the secrecy of their passwords, and avoid accessing their banking information in situations where these credentials could be compromised – such as in public locations with unsecured internet connections, tempting as they can be. In short, it’s a hassle and it’s still less secure than it people think.

Given this environment, banking customers or financial clients are readier than ever to translate their comfort using interfaces such as Alexa and Siri over into their banking practices. With comScore predicting that half of all searches will be done with our voice by 2020, it becomes easy to anticipate passwords being replaced by voice and other biometrics, as customers come to expect that same ease of use across all the technologies they touch. With biometrics eliminating cumbersome passwords and allowing users to authenticate their identities passively, simply by speaking, adoption of the technology should only accelerate.

Biometrics technology has advanced

Parallel to the public’s increasing appetite for biometrics-based solutions, the technology has advanced to provide more robust and dependable capabilities. Driven by AI and machine learning, the technology is now able to look deep within human behavioural data to recognize tendencies in how individuals type on a keyboard, swipe on touchscreens, walk across a room, and more – and all just as unique as their fingerprint. Similarly, voice biometrics is now capable of distinguishing between a user’s live voice and a recording of it, entirely negating the spy movie trope of fooling security measures with a voice recorder, and reinforcing the readiness of this technology to secure even the most sensitive transactions.

Forecasts predict a bright future for biometrics and banking

In addition to increasing convenience and nurturing customer trust, the banking industry faces the ongoing task of contending with identity fraud – offering another avenue by which biometrics can provide value to the industry. Given these industry motivations, analysis from Goode Intelligence foresees that 1.9 billion bank customers will regularly use biometrics interfaces by 2020. Applications will include secure interfaces for ATMs, voice-based identity confirmation via telephone, digital onboarding using facial recognition, authentication via mobile app and web interfaces, and more.

As the adoption of biometrics in the banking industry grows, solutions that help to deliver quick and seamless authentication experiences for customers will come to represent a competitive differentiator, driving further adoption of these features while increasing the safety and security of consumer banking as a whole.

About Alexey Khitrov

Alexey Khitrov is president and CEO at ID R&D, an award-winning biometric solutions provider offering proprietary AI-based behavioural, voice, and anti-spoofing user authentication capabilities. Prior to ID R&D, Alexey was the president and CEO at SpeechPro, a provider of speech recording, processing, analysis and voice biometrics.

 

About ID R&D

ID R&D is an award-winning provider of multi-modal biometric security solutions based in New York, NY. With more than 25 years of experience in biometrics, the company’s management and development teams apply the latest scientific breakthroughs to significantly enhance authentication experiences. ID R&D combines a science-driven seamless authentication experience with the capabilities of a leading research and development team. ID R&D’s focus is on behavioral biometrics, voice biometrics, keystroke dynamics, and biometric fusion. In March 2018, the company was named a top-ten AI startup by Microsoft Ventures.

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