Slovakian Tatra Bank is the most recent financial institution to join Barclays Bank and USAA Bank in offering a voice biometric system to authenticate users’ identities. Biometrics – the process of identifying a person by physiological characteristics or behavioral traits – is by no means a new concept, but it recently regained the public spotlight with the release of Apple’s Touch ID on the new iPhone 5S. Financial institutions and ecommerce businesses alike have struggled for years to find a way to authenticate customers’ identities that is not only secure and reliable, but also convenient and easy to use. Although vulnerabilities with Apple’s Touch ID were exposed just the day after the iPhone 5S launched, many technology experts still view biometrics as the key to unlocking this user authentication paradox.
Upgrade from Traditional Login Process
Biometric capabilities offer numerous advantages over a traditional username and password. Not only can passwords be easily compromised through various fraudulent practices (e.g., phishing and keystroking), passwords also place the burden of remembering login credentials on the customer. Biometric technologies identify a user by unique characteristics (e.g., their heartbeat, voice, iris patterns or fingerprints) which users carry around with them at all times and are more difficult to replicate than an alphanumeric password. These security steps can be applied at login or when a customer attempts to make a high-risk transaction.
End of the Password?
Earlier this year PayPal president David Marcus vowed to rid his firm’s services of traditional password requirements, and helped found the FIDO Alliance (Fast Identity Online) to work toward this goal. Asinvestment in this area continues to grow and further technological advancements are made, could it be that passwords will soon become a thing of the past? Personally, as an individual with close to two dozen password protected accounts, I hope so.