Biometrics in Banking: Introducing Tomorrow's Technologies Today

Financial firms must explore and assess the potential safety threats of today so they may enact the critical security measures necessary for an optimal user experience tomorrow.
Customer Experience

Money matters come with an inherent air of sensitivity, as financial information must remain protected and secure at all times. Thus, as financial services companies grapple with an ever-evolving stream of new safety regulations, these firms must introduce tighter online and contact center security measures to defend clients from the dangers of fraud.

In recent years, many financial institutions have turned to biometric technology in an effort to avoid more vulnerable means of verification, such as PINs, security questions, and other forms of knowledge-based authentication. Not only can hackers and fraudsters steal such data with minimal effort, but remembering multiple answers and passwords can also become frustrating and difficult for the actual client. Hence, many firms are now focusing on integrating biometrics, as these forms of identification are unique to each individual user.

"Consumers have shifted from the physical world to the online world," says Mark Lazar, global vice president, fraud and identity solutions at Verint Systems. "As a result, it's increasingly easy for fraudsters to find customer information online at any given point. Online passwords and security questions used to be enough protection, but it has become easier for hackers to access this information with just a few clicks online. This is evident in the numerous breaches that have happened in just the last few months and years." To combat this issue, he adds that security experts are turning to physical attributes, such as fingerprints and voice as 'passwords' to protect consumers since these attributes are unique and harder to steal than manmade passwords.

Said measures also result in shorter call duration, as authentication time becomes greatly reduced when clients no longer need to jump through hoops just to access their accounts, thereby boosting satisfaction and trust at the same time.

Money Talks: How Voice Recognition Enables Financial Firms to Outsmart Fraudsters

According to one recent Deloitte study, 63 percent of consumers also consider biometric capabilities, such as facial recognition, fingerprint identification, and voice authentication, valuable when it comes to calming their privacy fears. These safety measures provide superior security, as fraudsters can no longer take over an account merely by stealing credit cards and consumer information, as the given bank will still be able to detect suspicious behavior based on the mismatched caller voiceprint.

When it comes to voice biometrics, consumers need not possess any new device or technology, as with fingerprint, facial, or retinal recognition, as these tools are invisible to the end-customer, making them much quicker and easier to adopt. Clients need only speak normally during their regular phone calls to enact this 'passive' form of authentication. Voice biometrics operates in the background of each call, analyzing the client's voice without the need for special passcodes or phrases. Thus, no matter how much information a hacker may have obtained, he won't be able to gain access to the given client's account, rendering him unable to replicate this unique mathematical model of the individual's voice.

Jade Kahn, solution marketing manager, fraud and real-time authentication solutions at NICE Systems, also emphasizes that consumers need to be made aware of the measures enacted by financial institutions to protect their personal data, as well as the fact that voiceprints prevent criminals from confirming their identities. Essentially, even if voiceprints were to be acquired by fraudsters, they'd be of no use outside the domain of the financial institution that initially created them.

But, as Mike Laurie, co-founder and vice president of product strategy at Silanis, notes, voice recognition does have its drawbacks, as the technology isn't always foolproof. "If you wake up with a cold and your voice has dropped half an octave, the voice recognition software may not identify your voice as you, making it frustrating to unlock whatever you need," he says. Thus, it's ideal that financial institutions establish a multifactor authentication process in order to develop a complete customer profile while still leveraging a variety of biometric technologies so they may curb frustration and prevent fraud no matter the circumstance.

Barclays W&IM Leverages Voice Authentication to Improve Experience and Reduce Average Call Time

For Barclays Wealth and Investment Management, the U.K.'s leading global wealth manager, the desire to embrace voice biometrics came from its recent client satisfaction study. The research revealed that clients were concerned about the company's telephone channel security processes, thereby highlighting their overwhelming demand for an improved experience. Client service center-based relationship managers expressed similar discontent, as they felt uncomfortable asking clients the basic comprehensive set of security questions despite already having developed rapport. Hence, Barclays teamed with Nuance to improve security, boost employee and client satisfaction, and reduce average call time.

By integrating Nuance's FreeSpeech voice biometrics technology, Barclays can now verify customers' identities in the background of their phone conversations with contact center agents to authenticate callers and determine if they're authorized to make account inquiries without interrupting the flow of the call. Once the technology verifies the caller, Barclay's CRM system populates the client's account management data instantly, ultimately eliminating the need for tricky PINs, passwords, and verification questions. Also, the passive process remains relatively non-intrusive and secure, as clients need only enroll once to establish their unique voiceprint.

Since implementation, more than 57,000 Barclays' customers have opted for full system enrollment, with 65 percent of all calls going through the voice authentication process. The company has also seen a 90 percent reduction in complaints over the past two years, with 93 percent of clients ranking Barclays' voice biometrics capabilities at least 9 out of 10 for speed, ease-of-use, and security. The new process also takes only 20 seconds, as opposed to the old manual method's two to seven minute duration, successfully reducing the average call time and boosting client satisfaction (71 percent) simultaneously.

MasterCard Partners with Zwipe to Launch World's First Payment Card with Fingerprint Identification

Within the past year, credit card breaches have become an almost regular and widespread occurrence, particularly within the retail industry. Thus, banks and credit card providers have taken it upon themselves to develop more secure consumer experiences that stop such threats before customers step foot in the store. MasterCard for instance, recently announced its partnership with Zwipe, in which the two companies have come together to create the world's first credit card that combines biometric fingerprint authentication and contactless payment technology, thereby eliminating the need for a traditional PIN.

Users need only scan their fingerprint upon initial setup-information that's then stored within the card, not an external database, to increase security even further. Zwipe's near field communication (NFC) support also allows users to simply wave their card at compatible terminals, eliminating the need to swipe. Though only in the pilot stage, the Zwipe MasterCard has received positive responses from both retailers and consumers who advocate the card's ease of use and added security features. Developers also expect to release an improved version of the card in 2015, which will be compatible with all payment terminal types. This new version will no longer require a battery, as well, as the card will gather its energy from said payment terminals each time it's used.

Thus, with each new development, biometric technology carries innovation one step further, providing consumers with the tools they need and the security they trust.