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Biometrics: Are they becoming the nirvana of personal security?



By 2020, nearly all smart devices including mobile phones, tablets and wearables will have some form of biometric security enablement. By the same time, personal banking through mobile apps will also overtake online banking in the UK.

In the UK, over 22 million people managed their current account on their phone last year, according to a report by CACI. By 2023, they have predicted that around 35 million people or 72% of the UK adult population will bank in the future via a phone app.

The combination of mobile banking and biometric security in our smart devices will enable consumers to have more confidence regarding their personal security and will be far safer than it has ever been.

Digital identity and proving who you are has become important for all kinds of remote banking. Combining both physical and behavioural biometric technologies together will play a central role and a key component of the customer journey and user experience. Besides it also has the convenience over having to remember complex passwords or PINs.

However, even though we know that biometric technology is not perfect, it is certainly a better security method than traditional user names and passwords, which can be hacked or stolen because there have been a large number of high profile data breaches in the past few years.

Biometric data is unique, relying on binary encryption and algorithmic measurements which is very difficult to reconstruct into a human template. Biometrics has become a critical part of cyber security going forward because it’s nearly impossible to replicate. Blockchain technology is also providing additional security with biometric data.

Behavioural biometrics is the fastest growing of all the biometric sciences and there are many new fintech and start-up companies offering different types of solutions. Sometimes known as passive biometrics, they usually involve the user to just carry on with what they are normally doing.

Behavioural biometrics provides an analytical tool to moderate risk. It actually monitors user behaviour during the duration of the visit and detects anomalous activity. There are some 2,000 parameters that behavioural biometrics depends on that gives a clear indication of someone’s unique identity. These range from monitoring human motion gestures and patterns to keystroke dynamics, and factors such as speed, flow, touch, sensitive pressure and even signature formats. It also uses machine learning and AI as a continuous form of authentication. This technology can detect bot attacks and synthetic account openings too. A number of prominent banks have already deployed behavioural biometrics as part of their remote customer on-boarding strategies.

Of course, smartphones are ideal for personal banking. With so much more functionality, mobile is rapidly becoming the digital channel of choice, increasingly replacing both online and more traditional branch banking for a great many customers.

2018 has seen biometrics come of age. Many consumers are already using a biometric method to unlock their smartphones; features such as a fingerprint scanner in Android phones, or TouchID/FaceID in IOS phones, for example. Many UK banks have introduced face or voice recognition as an alternative to passwords for log-ins or transaction verification, and in some cases, it’s both. It also suits consumers who prefer a choice. With other biometric technologies such as iris, palm, vein, heartbeat and even DNA methods coming in the future, our human characteristics, whether they are physical or behavioural, are the unique ways to identify us.

Now that biometrics are being used in many verticals such as education, healthcare, aviation, automation, IoTs (Internet of Things) and financial services, consumers are already becoming familiar with the idea that biometrics is a fundamental part of the mobile banking landscape. Biometrics are now ubiquitous!