Halifax trials heartbeat identity authentication

Halifax tests a technology that identifies customers by their heartbeats – said to be more secure than fingerprints – to access banking services

Halifax is testing a technology that identifies customers by their heartbeats, to allow them access to banking services

The building society said the technology could be more secure than using fingerprints to access accounts.

In a demonstration video a spokesman for Halifax set the technology is still in development, but could be used in the future to make account access easier and more secure.

“This is better security than using your thumbprint, because possibly a thumbprint could be copied – but this comes from inside.” he said.

The biometric technology from Bionym is built into a wristband and could enable customers to log into accounts and make payments.

In Canada, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) MasterCard users are already testing the technology.

Read more about biometrics in banking

Biometric access appeals to young customers

The use of biometric technology to access financial services is seen by businesses in the sector as a way of attracting customers. For example, MasterCard recently said it will launch a biometric authentication and verification pilot this year as part of a $20m budget increase on improving  cyber security technology.

According to a recent study from Visa Europe, a new generation of banking customers would rather use biometric security devices than PINs and passwords for authentication.

The payments firm found that 75% of 16- to 24-year-olds said they would have no problem using biometric security, with 69% expecting it to be faster and easier than a password or PIN.

Fingerprint authentication is attractive to those in the 16 to 24-year-old age group, because they want to avoid security slowing down the process of making a payment. Some 64% of those surveyed said they found existing security irritating.

Research in 2014 from Intelligent Environments found 52% of consumers want banks to integrate fingerprint scanners into digital banking apps. This was the most popular, followed by iris scanners (33%), facial recognition (30%), electrocardiogram heartbeat monitors (29%) and voice verification (27%).

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