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How is biometrics transforming banks’ security?

How is biometrics transforming banks’ security?

Finextra sat down with digital identity verification platform Veridas to learn more about how biometrics is taking over the cybersecurity industry. CEO and co-founder of Veridas Eduardo Azanza spoke on new developments in the field and the emerging technology’s potential to revolutionise security.

Azanza describes the company’s transition from working high security printers and using tools to avoid fraud in documentation in the physical space, to focusing on digital identity. He states that Veridas has completed more than 100 million identity verifications online for a variety of industries including banking, insurance, telecommunication, utilities, hospitality, and governments.

Commenting on how biometrics is pioneering change in security, Azanza remarks that regulation has pushed the banking industry forward. “The banking sector was one of the first industries to adopt biometrics mainly because of regulation. Banking is a highly regulated industry. Back in 2016, certification and compliance authorities in the industry in Germany and Spain allowed banks to open current accounts remotely. By means of that regulation, users could then open a current account remotely by applying certain identity verification technologies. Those regulations drove the application of these technologies in banking.”

Once the banking sector embraced biometric technology, other industries followed suit, and now biometrics is a huge factor in modern authentication processes.

He adds that the goal of Veridas is to create a seamless journey of authentication and transparency that identifies users in both the physical and digital world using their biometrics as their signature. “Biometrics is allowing people to be recognised and identified in the most natural way possible,” says Azanza.

Veridas is currently operating in 25 countries with hundreds of customers, 50 of which are banks. The company has been in a partnership with BBVA since 2015, allowing them to reach a wider range of users and support cybersecurity operations in the countries that BBVA operates in.

Azanza notes that seamless authentication is on the rise, as they are working to enhance the user experience for customers calling in to access account information or request help with their account. While before, customers were drilled with personal questions and personal information to verify they were who they said they were, now technology is being implemented where a customer’s voice can be recognised simply by speaking naturally in any language for only a few seconds. This system recognises the user immediately, limiting fraud.

He outlines the “magic triangle of biometrics” as user experience, security, and cost effectiveness.

Azanza describes a use case for technology that Veridas implemented in Mexico aimed to ease the digital divide facing pensioners: “We implemented a system in Mexico for pensioners. Typically, they have to go twice a year to the branch office to say, ‘Hey, I'm alive. Give me my pension.’ Banks with our technology, this triggers an automatic phone call to the pensioner, who can answer in any language. They can say anything they like, even an insult! Then in just a few seconds the bank knows that this person is alive and needs to receive their pension; it's automatic. From the pensioner’s point of view, not having to go physically to the branch, the user experience is incredible. For the bank, they are saving money in terms of service and making sure that there's no fraud.”

On the progression of biometric technology since the widespread integration of voice biometrics that became popular a few years ago, Azanza explains that the first wave of tech was “clunky,” and that the new innovations will focus on face recognition as well as higher levels of voice biometrics.

“The maturity of the experience is driving up the use cases. We have seen a lot of interest and traction for voice biometrics, and also for identity verification and authentication. Doing a payment with your face, using your face and your voice as second factor authentication is also a very important use case that is seeing a lot of traction. Having these technologies, we do identity verification and also authentication, closing the circle.”

Commenting on emerging trends in the security space, Azanza states that identity wallets will play an important role in authentication for banking, but regulation such as PSD2 has halted online commerce as 2-factor authentication can be cumbersome with overly complex authentication methods such as One Time Passwords (OTPs).

However, he expresses enthusiasm in the industry’s ability to enhance the authentication experiences and make verification as seamless as possible through third-party biometrics.

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