Consumers have been cautious to the point of resistance about the adoption of biometrics. Lack of trust, both of governments and banks, has led to concerns about access to and retention of biometric data. Consumers are also worried about false denials and identifications. Finally, where biometrics has been added to an authentication procedure to create a two-factor process, customers have complained about inconvenience and complexity. Whilst consumers value improved security, they also want biometric solutions to deliver a slick and literally one-touch process.
Some companies, and indeed countries, are rising to the challenge:
- Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam is deploying Wincor Nixdorf’s biometric technology to provide fingerprint authentication at ATMs without the need for a pin number.
- Jordan Commercial Bank is using iris recognition in some branches. On submission of a scan, customers are able to conduct any financial transaction without the need for traditional identification.
- SmartMetric Inc has introduced the SmartMetric Biometric card which the customer activates by touching a sensor on the card’s surface which then matches the fingerprint to a centrally stored record.
- The Indian government is rolling out an iris-based biometric citizen identification solution. 110m people have been signed up with 20m being added per month.
So biometrics can improve security and the customer experience in established channels. But can the technology also be applied to remote access? How will customers react to having to manage an additional piece of hardware when logging into their online accounts? Time will tell, but voice recognition, finger print or iris recognition technology may emerge as key enablers in mobile banking. Whatever happens, with more than 5bn mobile phones in existence, the market access a successful mobile biometric authentication solution could provide is unparalleled.
Across all channels, the technology development story has a long way to run. Key challenges include:
- If a customer’s biometric is stolen, it cannot simply be reset like a password can
- In testing, photographs have proved capable of beating facial recognition technology
- How can biometrics be applied to customers without hands or eyes – will this necessitate a non-biometric back-up solution?
- The credentials gathering process can be cumbersome. In the Indian government’s initiative, a budget of 12 minutes per person is allowed. In some western airports the experience can take longer.
One thing is clear: developing biometric authentication solutions which improve security is only half of the battle; enhancing the customer experience will be the enabler that can make these channels really successful.
By Richard Robinson, Principal Advisor in the UK