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Is the selfie your new banking password?

It is no more a tool restrained to the likes of the Petersens of CSI or the Hunts of Mission Impossible – facial recognition as a safe “login” is the new password today. And no, it isn’t restricted to some elite list- it’s for all!

The year 2016 has shed light on several loopholes in the password and PIN driven banking practices. Customers have lost several thousands of dollars to phishng, vishing and smishing – all frauds carried out by miscreants digitally. A survey of online shopping trends by Hoyos Labs found that 90 percent of participants believe that passwords provide little or no security. More than a third believe that using biometrics, such as facial recognition is a more secure solution.

China introduced the first face recognition ATM a year ago, and HSBC introduced facial biometric access data units at its data centres to secure and protect sensitive data from falling into wrong hands. Banks are moving into the world of biometrics to take on fraudsters head-on. To make access to accounts more cheat-proof – facial biometric recognition is being adopted by leading banks across the world. Face recognition not only promises to free customers from passwords, but makes the preference safer.

Customers are more than prepared to move into the world of biometrics and “face reading”. According to a survey carried out by MasterCard, 53 percent of shoppers forget passwords more than once a week, losing more than 10 minutes to resetting accounts. When senior vice president of MasterCard, Bob Reany exclaimed that he hates passwords, he wasn’t joking. Therefore, it was no surprise that MasterCard launched the ‘selfie pay’ app – which allows users to identify with their bank by taking a selfie and not passwords!

Facial recognition is also the most accepted form of user authentication – reason being it is less intrusive and cheaper. Unlike a fingerprint, or an iris scan, there is no risk of illness transfer with facial recognition as one doesn’t have to touch a machine, and it hardly takes any time to authenticate access.

But is it fully fool-proof? To a large extent, yes. As it works by comparing facial landmarks and angles of defined facial features, it is not easy to conceal or fake identity by makeup, eyeglasses or beard. But since it uses 2D recognition, it is affected by changes in lighting, the person’s hair, and age. To beat this shortcoming, several new hacks are being adopted into this technology. MasterCard authenticates individuals only if one takes a selfie and blinks – thereby negating chances of fraud by imposters with a stolen (customer) photograph. Deutsche Bank has been experimenting with a facial recognition technology, which will analyse about 50 different factors to build a picture of a user from pressure applied to the pin-pad to how the phone is held, location, facial recognition and thumbprint.

While banks continue to invest and explore the application of facial biometrics technology – traditional passwords are set to fade out, and selfie fanatics are bound to find a new stage.




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