Picture this. You walk up to your front door and a beam of light scans your eye. The door opens and you walk inside. As you take off your coat, you receive a notification on your phone about an abnormal charge on your debit card. You lift your phone to your face and are instantly looking at your recent bank statement.
No, you have not been transported to a new spy movie. You are living in today’s world of biometric identification.
Biometric identification refers to technological systems and devices that allow machines to confirm an individual identity by comparing saved data to the live person. If you have a phone that you can unlock with your fingerprint or face, then you are using biometrics. Banks are one of many industries to turn to biometrics and have been working for years to implement it both in the front and back-end of their apps and services. The goal is to create a system that is safe and secure but still allows users to access services quickly and without hassle.
Improves Consumer Experience
When using traditional username/password identification, users need to either go through the ‘forgot password’ process and answer Knowledge-Based Authentication questions or contact a call center. Biometric identification removes this process and makes the app more user-friendly.
Increases Security and Fights Fraud
Since more people are using banking apps instead of going to brick-and-mortar locations, banks need to ensure their apps and websites are secure.
Banks consider biometric identification as a key tool for fighting fraud and securing financial and personal data. Biometrics have gone through rigorous testing and are found time and time again to be safer than traditional passwords and username logins. According to a study by consulting firm Deloitte, three-quarters of corporate cyberattacks are caused by weak passwords. The same study reported that 56 per cent of employees use the same passwords for personal and corporate accounts and 20 per cent share passwords with other employees. Hacks are mainly caused by human error and repetition of passwords.
By removing the need for a PIN or password, biometrics increase security and reduce the threat of information being compromised by hackers.
Fast and Accurate
The process of entering a username and password is relatively quick until you forget your password and must go through the ‘forgot password’ process. Now logging-in, which should have taken less than a minute, takes five or more. Banks were receiving negative feedback about the password process as people became tired of resetting and remembering passwords and wanted to find a solution.
Biometric identification makes signing-in fast and accurate. Users just scan their finger, face, or in some cases eyes, and login immediately.
Not a Perfect Science
Biometric identification is not perfect. Like any technology, there are weak points that need to be taken into consideration before use. Biometrics’ main weakness stems from its main strength; only accepting a perfect match. This means if a person’s finger is greasy, there is background noise or poor lighting, the device will not recognize the person as a match.
Biometrics is also not immune to hacking and fraud. Sadly, as biometric technology evolves, so does malware. Since the introduction of biometric identification, hackers have started to use deepfakes and voice biometrics to trick the biometric software. Hackers will use AI technology to create a holographic image of the person or use audio manipulation to copy a person’s voice.
Looking on the Bright Side
These negatives should be taken with a grain of salt. You do not need to fear being locked out of your banking app if you just ate a large fry and have no napkins. Nor do you need to live in fear of a person making an AI replica of your face.
Many banking apps that use biometric identification use multi-factor authentication (MFA). This means the user can sign in either using the biometric scan or switch to a PIN or password. Even if your finger is greasy, you can still access your bank statements.
New software is being developed to identify and stop any attempts to fake a voice, face or fingerprint. One way to do this is with passive biometrics. Passive biometrics study the user’s inherent behavior, such as how they hold their thumb when they unlock their device, how they move the mouse, or how they type on a keyboard. These characteristics are taken into consideration when a user logs-in and prevents hackers.
It is also important to remember that for someone to hack into your account using biometrics, they would first need to steal your device. Luckily, it is much easier to tell if your phone has been stolen than it is a password.
Whether you are wary or excited about the use of biometric identification, it is clear it is here to stay. Banks and other industries, like retail, have become reliant on the security and efficiency of biometric identification.