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The Rise of Biometric Banking

More than ever consumers are questioning the safety of their financial data in light of the increasing number of cyber-attacks this year, including many publicly announced hacks with popular brands such as Yahoo, TalkTalk and Tesco Bank. As consumers are becoming more aware of personal fraud protection there has been an increase in demand for banks to provide sophisticated security such as biometric verification to access their accounts. It seems that recent cyber-theft cases have brought the need for such defences to the forefront.

According to research by Intelligent Environments, over a quarter (26%) of British consumers think their bank could do more to protect their data from hackers and fraudsters. All banks currently offer an online banking service, wherein the most common methods of security are pin and password logins followed by a secondary protocol such as a question, however consumer feel that this is not sufficient anymore. Furthermore, Almost half (45%) of the people surveyed agreed that banks should offer biometric authentication to access their accounts. The 2016 Future Password Index (FPI) reported that the two most in demand methods of biometrics according to consumers are iris scanners (60%) with fingerprint scanners at a close second (57%).

New research from Newcastle University shows that hackers can simply guess someone’s Visa payment card details in just six seconds. A team led by PhD student Mohammed Ali at the university suggests it is all down to a method called “the Distributed Guessing Attack.” This is where criminals send different variations of security information simultaneously at hundreds of different websites and through the process of elimination, they could guess the correct details for a Visa card. A brute force approach of hacking.

According to Ali, “the current online payment system does not detect multiple invalid payment requests from different websites."

“This allows unlimited guesses on each card data field, using up to the allowed number of attempts - typically 10 to 20 guesses - on each website.” Biometrics may change this, hackers could attempt to steal a person’s Visa card details however if biometric authentication is required to make transfers, it could reduce the number of fraud cases.

Earlier this year HSBC launched biometric services for customers including voice verification and fingerprint authentication which combines Apple iPhone’s fingerprint reader with HSBC’s mobile banking app. The appetite for this sophisticated technology is huge, so big in fact Business Insider predicts that 99% of mobile phones will be biometrics-enabled by 2021.

Just under a third of customers say that they would more likely choose a bank which offers biometric authentication. Over the coming decade, more banks will adopt this new sophisticated security technology to retain and attract new customers. Banks that utilise this new technology will find themselves ahead of the curve on their rivals with innovation paving the way for better customer experiences.

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James Constable
James Constable

Managing Director, Financial Services