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By Karen Quinn, Head of Marketing at biometric security specialists AimBrain

Technology has embedded itself within our lives: it’s trained to recognise us, second-guess us and make our lives easier. In areas such as biometrics, adoption has been rapid and enthusiastic.

Banks have been early adopters of biometric technology: selfie-enabled mobile banking, document scanning, and other means of user authentication have been actively explored and deployed by many financial institutions. The introduction of the second Payment Services Directive (PSD2) has also increased this technology adoption.

PSD2 and biometrics

PSD2’s Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) is putting technology at the centre of open banking, requiring certain transactions to authenticate using two factors from three; the well-discussed knowledge, possession, and inherence. Biometrics are providing the inherence factor and becoming a familiar and trusted step.

But for all the enthusiasm around biometrics, the implementation hasn’t always been smooth. The trouble with our appetite for technology is that anything less than perfect doesn’t pass muster. When one bank rolled out its customer acquisition programme that onboarded users with document scanning, there were some issues with certain smartphone models – which ultimately required owners of these devices to take photos of their documents with a webcam before uploading them to the online service.

This was a frustrating process for customers, and some went directly to a competitor after a few failed attempts to provide their documents. First impressions matter: technology has progressed to a point where customers have an extremely low tolerance for imperfection – causing banks that fall short to miss out on relationships that might otherwise last decades.

Banking of the future

Newer organisations aren’t bogged down with legacy systems, processes and mindsets spanning several decades. Challenger banks are putting customer experience at the very heart of what they do and designing their services around what the consumer wants today and in the future. This has included simplifying authentication by ditching passwords for facial or voice authentication –  although, until now, this has focused almost exclusively on the mobile channel. It’s now easier to access banking services through biometrics linked to your smartphone, but the average consumer now has 3.2 devices. What happens when they’re using their tablet or work laptop or at home? Does fixing one channel represent progress if there’s no continuity or synchronicity across all channels?

Customers demand the same experience and excellence in every way they interact with an organisation. Security is more important than it’s ever been, and the rise of biometrics in mobile banking has been swift and impressive. But unless it’s part of a cohesive strategy to synchronise the experience across all channels, it’s simply another different, disjointed way to reach the same organisation. The customer has to remember passwords, PINs, special phrases and more to access internet banking – and provide telephone banking codes, bill information, and other evidence of identity to reach their bank by phone.

It’s similar to selling a car with a different key for every door: frustrating, inconvenient, and needlessly complex when a master key to open every door would be far more effective. Institutions must be the same brand and adopt the same technologically-savvy, customer-first approach across every channel.

This isn’t always easy.  One MIT Sloan report found that “companies with multiple channels to the customer are experiencing pressure to provide an integrated experience” – and that “multichannel services require envisioning and implementing change across customer experience and internal operational processes.”

But times have evolved, and technology can now provide easy ways to deliver an integrated, consistent customer experience. By using a BIDaaS (Biometric Identity as-a-Service) provider, a bank can use an Application Programming Interface (API) to improve security and experience in a consistent way across any channel. AimBrain’s facial authentication technology lets a user enrol on one channel – such as a laptop or smartphone – and then log in using any other channel with a camera. Its voice authentication module lets a customer enrol using one device, then authenticate across any channel that features a microphone. The combined AimFace//LipSync module can be used across any device with both a camera and a microphone to enable a simple, Snapchat-like authentication. AimBrain’s behavioural authentication component also continually analyses in-session gestures and movements – whether via mouse, keyboard, touchpad, screen or phone. As all data is captured (within the bank’s infrastructure), encrypted and converted into a pseudonymised form in the cloud – away from any personal or financial information – the biometric template serves as a digital identity upon which a user can be authenticated across any channel.

This means no more PINs for the ATM, telephone codes for the call centre, one-time passcodes, call-backs, errant SMS codes, online passwords, or physical ID in a branch. The customer’s voice, face and behaviour will be all that’s required however they interact with their bank, which makes for a simple, smart solution to customer authentication that offers a  universal key for all doors – and one that can’t be lost or copied.

Banks which focus their efforts on providing such a key will be rewarded; those which continue to patch-fix, upgrading one door at a time, may find that their customers have traded them in for a faster, safer, more modern alternative.



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