Consumers ‘Overwhelmingly’ Prefer Biometric Security For Financial Services


Nine out of 10 consumers and banking professionals want biometric authentication put in place, but a skills gap stands in the way

Both banks and their customers favour the use of biometrics in consumer financial services, but adoption remains sluggish due in part to the lack of technical know-how within financial institutions, according to a new study.

Research carried out by MasterCard and Oxford University found consumers overwhelmingly preferred biometrics – such as fingerprint or iris scans – over passwords or PINs for authenticating payments or other financial services, with 93 percent indicating their preference.

Knowledge gap

A similar proportion of banking professionals – 92 percent – said they wanted to adopt biometrics, and the end-user tools are in place, with consumers increasingly owning mobile devices that include fingerprint or iris scanners.

But relatively few in the banking feel they’re qualified to bring in the new technology, with 36 percent of banking professionals saying they had adequate experience and 64 percent of technical professionals saying they had little or no experience with the technology.

Africa Studio thumbprint fingerprint biometric
MasterCard, which provides a biometric technology called Identity Check Mobile that authenticates using fingerprint or facial recognition, said the findings show consumers are ready for financial services companies to press forward with biometric authentication.

“They’re driving the trend toward a password-free future where digital identity is all about who we are, not what we remember,” stated Ajay Bhalla, the company’s president of global enterprise risk and security.

Industry framework

He argued biometrics are a more secure alternative to passwords, which are no longer fit for purpose in an environment in which users have up to 90 online accounts, with 25 percent forgetting at least one password per day.

A full one-third of online transactions are currently abandoned at checkout due to forgotten passwords, the study found.

To support the deployment of biometrics MasterCard and Oxford University have developed a five-factor best practice model that gives pointers on accuracy, ease of use, interoperability with upcoming technologies, security and the protection of users’ biometric data.

Bhalla said MasterCard sees the framework as a broad initiative to which industry, academia, governments and technology vendors can contribute.

“This framework is fundamental to accelerating the deployment of mobile biometrics for consumers and industry alike, but collaboration is key,” he stated.

The study, “Mobile Biometrics in Financial Services: A Five Factor Framework”, is available from San Francisco-based Opus Research, which is planning a webcast on the topic next month.

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