Mercator Blog

Biometrics in Banking
Date: April 14, 2015
Research Team
Ongoing Mercator Advisory Group research finds that banks and credit unions are evaluating a wide variety of methods to identify and authenticate banking customers performing transactions. Their efforts run the gamut from complying with the guidelines of the “Internet Authentication in an Internet Banking Environment” by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) to evaluating and testing and new processes and technologies.

A particularly interesting initiative is being undertaken by USAA that enable members to access their accounts via biometrics. USAA stated in a press release in January announcing biometric log-onthat it is “the first U.S. financial institution to offer facial and voice recognition on a mobile app as added protection against fraud and identity theft.”

Through biometric technology, USAA members residing in the United States will have the option to use their voice or face to quickly and securely access their account information via their USAA mobile app. This extends the app’s multifactor authentication options so that users can log on using two factors: a unique personal identification number, or PIN, face recognition, and/or voice recognition.

Biometric log-on is the latest effort by USAA to offer novel solutions to its members. The app is designed to heighten security as well as to improve the overall member experience. These capabilities follow other innovations, such as mobile remote deposit capture, to make banking easier and more accessible to members.

The log-on process requires members to look into a device’s screen, and when prompted, blink their eyes to prove that they are a real person and not an image. For voice recognition, users must read a short phrase.

These new capabilities are good examples of the innovation occurring in banking, specifically within banking channels. Central to these new products and solutions is a movement toward greater convergence between mobile banking and all banking channels. So stay tuned—there’s more on the horizon.