Posted March 24, 2015 by Bex in Announcements

Biometric Banking.

In our recent article, ‘Is the new Natwest and RBS fingerprint recognition technology secure?‘, we explored the new Touch ID technology being rolled out in the banking world, but the BBC have recently reported that this is just one small factor in the world of biometric banking.  With more and more technological advancements being made each and every day, we take a look at what the future holds for our banking security.

barclaysIt has been proved that fingerprint recognition is far from foolproof so the race to come up with an improved version or in fact another method of high end security is on. Barclays intends to bring out finger vein recognition for their UK business customers this year. The Vein ID scanners, which have been developed in Japan by Hitachi, are currently being used in Japan and Poland. A spokesperson for Hitachi explains that “your vein pattern is established in the womb and stable throughout your life” so when infrared light is transmitted through your finger, the haemoglobin in the veins absorbs some of the light and the individual vein pattern is highlighted.

Barclays Personal Banking CEO, Ashok Vaswani says, “We have shown the technology to a range of businesses and the interest and enthusiasm for the product is tremendous. The technology has also been tested by Hitachi for many years and it will be game-changing for UK businesses and consumers. Ultimately, I hope this will pave the way for other institutions to adopt equally robust technology in the fight against online crime”.

The VeinID is about the size of a tennis ball, with a slot for a SIM card at it’s base. The idea is that a user will scan their finger, the unique vein print will be stored on the SIM card and Barclays will use this to authenticate the user on their next log in. They claim that authentication will take no longer than 2 seconds and no biometric details will be saved on a central database, making it a lot harder for hackers to get their hands on it. It should be available to wealthy corporate banking clients this year and it proves a success, will be available to the rest of it’s customers thereafter.

Barclays already uses other biometric authentication methods for it’s business clients including voice recognition during phone calls, which enables clients to change their passwords or answer security questions. Advanced voice biometric technology is able to recognise and match up stored ‘voiceprints’ within their database. Amazingly, the content, language and accent of the client does not affect how well the technology works.  indexRather, it acts as a voice matching service and if the clients voice matches up with the original stored sound file, account access will be granted. Matt Smallman, who leads the Client Experience Strategy and Change team for Barclays Wealth and Investment Management, emphasises that “We believe that when a client chooses to phone us, as opposed to using one of our self-service channels, they have made a choice to speak to another human being, not a computer, and that there is generally an urgent, complex or emotional component to their request that can only really be addressed by getting our systems and processes out of the way and empowering our people to resolve the issue. Our voice security service is essential to delivering this vision as it enables our colleagues to really listen to our clients rather than be distracted by compulsory processes”. It is clearly working for them, as the system, which has been in use since mid 2012, has seen 93{a7f143556510d926cb072b695f3ed49f89b7d13a9d4c359f2399f0d9de0c1da1} of Barclays customers rate their bank a whopping 9 out of 10 for the speed, ease of use and security of voice authentication.

Wristbands which can verify a users identity by the electrical impulses of their heartbeat are being produced by a company in Toronto.  Bionym, have entitled the device the Nymi and claim it can “seamlessly unlock devices, remember passwords and more, using your heart’s unique signature”.

Eyelock, as the name might suggest, is a company based in New York who are currently producing a commercial iris scanner called Myris.  Their belief is that you can only get truly secure by using DNA as authentication. The blurb on their website sells the device as “No more usernames. No more passwords. One look is all it takes to verify your identity. Myris gives you up to 1-in-1.5 million security. And it’s as easy as using a mirror”.

myris1Perhaps most worryingly, is that there are some start up companies out there who are experimenting with biometric implants, which would involve implanting a chip under the skin, as well as decomposable tattoos which would stay on the skin for two months.

Is this all a step too far? The future of banking security is a huge concern and highly controversial, but should it really need to go to such extreme measures?