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By Clayton Locke, CTO, Intelligent Environments

Biometric technology for banking has reached a pivotal moment. It has been incubating in the early adopter stage for quite a while, and is now poised for launch and explosive growth.

We are now seeing many more examples of biometrics in interesting places. Tshighua University and Tzekwan Technology in China have unveiled the world’s first facial recognition ATM. It works by mapping facial data and matching it against an ID database, authenticating users by using facial feature and iris recognition. It can even identify if facial features have changed. The product has passed government certification and will as a result soon be available on the market.

According to developers, this new system is much safer than traditional PIN ATMs. This is good news, especially given the rise in identity fraud in recent years. According to our recent research, over a third of UK banking customers have had money stolen from their accounts by fraudsters. According to the National Fraud Authority £3.3 billion is lost through identity crimes each year.

With more people than ever using online and mobile banking to manage their finances, it is now crucial for financial services organisations to combat this rise in identity crime by deploying more sophisticated security technologies.

Banking customers agree with this. Our research reveals that 58 per cent of Brits would like to ditch their passwords in favour of biometric logins, while 56 per cent say they feel more comfortable with biometrics than they did a year ago.

The popularity of mobile devices, such as Apple’s latest iPhones, has helped contribute to a major shift in attitudes toward biometrics, and consumers now want to put the biometric features on these devices to good use. In fact, according to our research, a third of consumers use mobile banking more now that Apple’s Touch ID has been introduced.

Incorporating fingerprint scanning into mobile banking provides customers with the convenience of not having to enter passwords manually or having to remember multiple logins for different apps. It enables banks to improve the balance between customer convenience and security by making mobile services both more secure, and easier to use.

However, while biometric measures, such as fingerprint scanning,provide security and usability benefits, there are still concerns. For example, hackers claim that fingerprint scanning can be thwarted. This is certainly the case, just like passwords and other forms of identification. But fingerprints are just the starting point. By exploring the use of other,more advanced biometric measures, banks can make the authentication process much more secure and convenient, potentially eliminating the need for passwords altogether.

Some banks have already recognised this. For example, last year Barclays began experimenting with finger vein scanners for authentication purposes. This system uses near infra-red lights to check specific vein patterns inside a person’s finger. This method is deemed very secure as vein patterns are by nature extremely difficult to forge because they are found under the skin. Due to the eye-watering price tag, Barclays will initially just be offering the device to corporate clients, however they are actively exploring for a similar type of device to be able to offer it to all their customers.

In FinTech, we have grown accustomed to thinking that biometrics will be important to the future of digital banking. But the industry is quickly moving beyond this way of thinking – biometrics are already critical to digital banking. If you are not in the market with this technology, you are already behind. Financial services organisations should change their biometrics orientation from future innovation to immediate requirement. Biometrics is happening now.