How voice and video will keep omni-channel banking secure

Authentication for banking transactions has become more complex due to increased risk, but the must be taken off the user. Biometrics could be the answer

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Financial institutions that embrace the omni-channel are trying to reach customers through every possible touchpoint, but it’s equally important that those connections happen securely. After years of waiting, biometrics may be something you can finally bring to the bank.

Fingerprint authentication has proven itself effective, for example, and it will no doubt continue to replace PINs and hard-to-remember passwords. But using fingerprints has its limitations. First of all, it relies on hardware: the scanners have to be physically installed on every device in which they’re used. There’s also a psychological barrier to adoption, with a segment of users concerned about allowing their fingerprints to be stored in a company’s database. There is also a negative association with criminal activity and police records.

Related: Why endpoint security in banking has only just begun

Related: The vendor tension that’s keeping banks off cloud computing

Voice and video don’t have the same barriers to adoption. Neither rely on hardware, and users are less likely to worry about their privacy being violated. After all, virtually everyone is used to having their pictures taken for photo identification, and customers often have their phone conversations recorded by banks.

A voice print is easier to take, less intrusive and can be used to authenticate users on any voice channel. There are also fairly straightforward ways to prevent fraud (such as using a certain combination of words to distinguish between live and recorded speech), and new methods of securing stored voice prints from hackers are being developed.

Meanwhile, facial recognition technology offers multiple benefits to banks, particularly as video-linked virtual tellers grow in number. Securing a video conversation with a remote bank teller using facial authentication allows important banking transactions to be completed faster since the customer can be immediately identified. And of course, loss prevention will be less of an issue if there aren’t cards to be misplaced or stolen.

Banks can also use the technology internally. In 2008, HSBC installed facial recognition units in two of its data centres, controlling access to the sensitive facilities to prevent security breaches or fraud by staff or contractors. Once again, this speaks to the inherent flaws in key cards and codes and the need for a replacement.

The banks of the future will continue to rely on the time-tested protocol of multiple-factor security. And soon, with more widespread adoption of voice and video authentication, it will only be enhanced. Customer compliance will be easier to achieve, banking will become simpler and transactions will move along faster than ever.

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