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UK bank customers set to share DNA data with banks for biometric authentication

UK consumers want to use biometric authentication security for banking and are willing to share DNA data with institutions for identification purposes

Two-thirds of UK consumers regard biometric technology as more secure than usernames and passwords for banking, and a quarter are ready to share data about their DNA for identification purposes.

Biometric authentication could change the perception that making things easier to use makes them less secure and financial services companies need to invest in the technology or risk losing customers, according to a report from communications supplier Telstra.

As more people use mobile banking apps with the promise of instant services at your fingerprints, they don’t want to constantly type in usernames and passwords. Small touchscreens can make it particularly difficult on the move.

Telstra found that, in the UK, two-thirds of consumers believe identification technologies such as voice, fingerprint, iris and facial recognition are more secure than passwords and would help reduce the risks of fraud. A total of 32% of UK survey respondents said they had experienced identity theft either directly or indirectly, compared to the global average of 38%.

Two-fifths (40%) of respondents from around the world who had experienced identity theft said it was mostly or entirely the fault of the business holding their details. Almost two-thirds (63%) of respondents said they would change supplier, such as their bank, if they experienced identity theft directly; and 54% said they would change if they indirectly experienced it.

Users lose faith in passwords

“For the last six months, we’ve spoken to consumers and banks all over the world, in an effort to understand how our relationship with our smartphone is affecting our relationship with our financial institutions,” said Rocky Scopelliti, global industry executive for banking, finance & insurance at Telstra. 

“What we uncovered is that, when it comes to mobile banking applications, consumers no longer believe in just the safety of passwords and usernames. 

Read more about financial transaction authentication

“In fact, one in four UK consumers would even consider sharing their DNA with their financial institution, if it meant it would make authentication easier and their financial and personal information more secure.”

Banks are investing in biometric technologies in response to this type of attitude, particularly among younger age groups. Research from Visa Europe found 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 a Pin. 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%).

In September 2014 Barclays announced plans to launch biometric readers for customer authentication. The technology has been developed with Hitachi's Finger Vein Authentication Technology, also known as VeinID.

Halifax is testing a technology that identifies customers by their heartbeats, to allow them access to banking services. Alibaba has demonstrated an app that will allow mobile shoppers to use selfies as authentication when making payments.




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