HSBC is following Lloyds TSB in assessing the use of hardware tokens to improve the security of online banking.
HSBC said it was piloting hardware security tokens to provide two-factor authentication in its Brazil and Hong Kong operations.
Two-factor authentication relies on a hardware token that the customer uses to generate a unique number which must be keyed in as part of the log-in process.
HSBC said, "The UK banking industry is looking at two-factor authentication, and HSBC is part of those discussions - we have no specific plans outside of these industry discussions at this stage."
In October, Lloyds TSB announced one of the largest trials of the technology conducted in the UK, with plans to issue 30,000 customers with keyring-sized devices that would give them secure access to online accounts through a one-use pass code.
Two-factor authentication can also be achieved using a software application. Software provider Meridea has devised a system that uses software on a Java-enabled mobile phone to generate a validation number for each transaction. Meridea said it is straightforward to install, with the software delivered to mobile handsets remotely.