28 November 2015

Brits back biometrics for banking authentication

29 July 2014  |  11444 views  |  8 digital fingerprints

More than half of Brits want their banks to integrate fingerprint biometric authentication technology into their digital services, according to a survey.

The iPhone 5s and Samsung Galaxy S5 have helped to acclimatise Brits to biometrics over the last year through their fingerprint scanners. Of 2000 people polled for vendor Intelligent Environments, 79% say that they are ready to ditch their passwords in favour of biometric security measures.

Fingerprint scanning is the most popular biometric authentication method, favoured by 53%, followed by iris scanning on 33%, facial recognition on 30% and ECG heartbeat monitoring on 29%.

The least popular method is voice verification, cited by just 27% of respondents despite being the only one of the options in use by a major UK bank - Barclays began rolling it out recently at its call centres.

Clayton Locke, CTO, Intelligent Environments, says: "In the battle of the biometrics, it's not surprising that fingerprint scanners come out on top as more people are getting used to them being built into mobile devices. But what the Future Password Index really reveals is the consumer demand for these technologies."

Both Samsung and Apple have already opened the door to their fingerprint scanners for payments. Samsung has a deal in place with PayPal that lets Galaxy S5 users tap the handset's scanner to make payments at online and in-store merchants, while Apple has launched a Touch ID API for developers.

Comments: (8)

A Finextra member | 29 July, 2014, 16:35

This is surprising as smartphone penetration in the UK has yet to reach 79%.

How exactly will all these people opting for biometric authentication manage to use it?

I suspect there were some very leading questions in this survey.

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A Finextra member | 29 July, 2014, 16:42

The biometric facility on the S5 is annoyingly hit and miss - and that is just to unlock the handset. Relying on current mobile biometrics just to check my balance? No thanks.

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Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 29 July, 2014, 17:38 Let alone smartphone, I wonder if even the penetration of Digital Banking (by which I understand Internet + Mobile Banking) has reached 79%. I'm predicting that this will be changed to "79% of Mobile Banking Customers". That makes sense: Anything but password on Mobile Banking, please! One of my banks uses the same Username and Password on Mobile Banking as on Internet Banking. It's so painful that I haven't bothered to use the Mobile Banking app beyond the first time I opened it after installing it. Personally, even the hit and miss of fingerprint is better. If - and that's a big IF - I want to use Mobile Banking in the first place.
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A Finextra member | 29 July, 2014, 18:05

@Ketharaman - Password on mobile banking isn't inherently bad, just when it's done badly. Typing in a 4 or more digital code (just like unlocking your phone) is completed in moments and fulfills its need perfectly. 

For many mobile banking apps now you don't even have to login to check your balance. You only need to do do anything more and then it's just entering a code usually between 4 and 8 digits. 

Mobile banking security is working very well as it is. I'm open to improvements but I just don't see biometrics working. They've been around a long time and the interest has never got beyond a small niche

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Peter Fletcher-Dobson - Kiwibank - Wellington | 29 July, 2014, 21:48

After using fingerprint ID for iTunes and and anything else my iPhone lets me I find it an incredibly frictionless experience. Which is crucial in micro interactions. Fingerprint is also more secure than a password or PIN (ie 'favourite pet'01 and 'birthday year' +1). We have been on a journey reducing access to our customers - from full log in to PIN and now customers can see account balances before they log in. Mobile usage as grown 700%. It's our duty to remove the friction with security. I think biometrics is a good option.

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Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 30 July, 2014, 07:58

@FinextraMember: A 4-digit code is akin to a PIN #, which is used by one of my other bank's Mobile Banking app. While it suffers from the "yet another password" problem, it's quite convenient. But I wasn't referring to that. My problem is with carrying forward the same, strong Internet Banking password into Mobile Banking. While fingerprint might be hit-and-miss, an average mobile banking user won't do better trying to type MvC!@##1 or some password like that on the virtual keyboard of a smartphone!

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A Finextra member | 04 August, 2014, 09:45


We all love frictionless solutions but are we doing so at the expense of security?

Fingerprint scanning on smartphones were hacked very quickly. Disappointing, but until these solutions hold their own against hackers is it wise to pursue this route? 

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Peter Fletcher-Dobson - Kiwibank - Wellington | 06 August, 2014, 22:59

I hear what you're saying Sian. But I feel the "password paradigm" we operate in actually drives less secure behaviours from users. Humans generally seek the most efficient way to a goal and password security requires us to take a very inefficient route. That's why we see so many hopeless passwords using birthdates; pet names; sport team names. The end-game with biometrics offers a much more effective and efficient solution than people having to remember things - so I think investing in this area is a good investment for banks in the longer term.

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