Most banks hold fire on two-factor security

Only HSBC will follow Alliance & Leicester this year in rolling out two-factor authentication to strengthen its security.

Only HSBC will follow Alliance & Leicester this year in rolling out two-factor authentication to strengthen its security.

Abbey, Barclays, Co-op Bank, HBOS and Royal Bank of Scotland have confirmed that they have no immediate plans to offer two-factor authentication to customers, having weighed up the potential benefits against the cost and complexity of any such deployment.

Analysts said the banks' caution was understandable, particularly because card readers based on a standard agreed in January by the Association for Payment Clearing Services are now being developed.

Martha Bennett, research director at Forrester Research, said, "It makes sense that the banks take a tactical approach. In most cases, that means strengthening anti-fraud in the background, rather than imposing further on the customer."

Bennett said transaction monitoring systems, in particular, were proving their worth to banks.

"Just because two-factor technology exists, it does not make sense for banks to go into panic mode and say 'we must do it now'," she said.

"A better approach is to ask yourself where your biggest vulnerabilities are and work in a tactical manner. It looks like that is the line being taken."

Read article: Banks tread warily over two-factor security

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