I came across this
blog on Finextra which took a fairly cautious view on the use of biometrics in the UK and Europe. It referred to Bank Leumi now using voice biometrics for password re-setting for online banking. Following announcements from Australia and the US, I agree
that it is encouraging to see usage of biometrics taking off in the UK and Europe.
That, however, is about where my agreement ends. The blog also referred to
Nick Griffiths' post on biometrics which questioned whether biometrics were in fact necessary and even went as far as terming them ‘a solution looking for a problem’. Unfortunately however, the problem is clear to see – especially to the increasing number
of people who are falling victim to ID or card fraud. Financial Fraud Action UK figures for the period January to June 2009 showed that there had been a 23 percent increase (on the same period last year) in the amount lost through card ID fraud and a 55 percent
rise in online banking fraud. Biometric technology addresses this problem because it verifies who the person is, rather than what they know and can also be used for verification where Chip and PIN cannot, such as in the growing online transaction space.
David also raises the issue of what would happen if a
biometric was compromised (for example your voice). Indeed, if a card is compromised then it can be easily replaced. However, when it comes to voice biometrics this would involve someone stealing the digital data voice print and then using it to authenticate
transactions fraudulently. While this is a good issue to raise, the likelihood and value of doing so is very small as it would require a highly sophisticated system. To give you an idea of the complexity we’re talking about – not only are the biometrics encrypted,
the biometric voice signature is stored in a separate location to the data centre itself. This means that a fraudster would need to get hold of both sets of data from each of their secure vaults, and then decrypt them both. The likelihood of this happening
is slim to none.
There’s no doubt that support for biometrics is growing;
figures announced last year from The Unisys Corporation tell us that the majority of people globally would now accept biometric authentication to verify their identities. Bank Leumi is clearly confident in such findings and recognises the opportunities
provided by this technology to provide as a secure method of payment verification. With this in mind, it is likely that this is just the beginning of what will be a big year for voice biometrics in the UK and throughout Europe.