The Future of Biometrics in the Banking Industry

future of biometrics

Have you heard of selfies being used for credit card authentication? Mastercard started testing this program late in 2015, along with other biometric authentication methods, like heartbeat readers and eye recognition.

Fast forward to the present and Mastercard is continuing to invest a lot into their biometrics efforts. In a recent interview, Ajay Bhalla, Mastercard’s President of Global Enterprise Risk and Security, discussed this topic in detail. He said with the incredibly high number of passwords that internet users are supposed to remember, it’s not surprising that over half of consumers use the same password across multiple websites (despite it being a major security risk.)

Bhalla believes that it’s up to companies to give consumers better ways to securely access all of their online accounts and information. He wasn’t surprised at a study which found that 93 percent of consumers would prefer to use biometrics instead of passwords. What’s interesting is this desire is actually mirrored by the banking industry. A full 92 percent of banks surveyed said they had the same preference.

Why Isn’t Biometrics Usage More Widespread?

Given that both consumers and banks are overwhelmingly in favor of using biometrics instead of passwords, why hasn’t this technology become more widespread? Bhalla said there’s a significant knowledge gap in the financial industry. Currently, just 36 percent of decision makers in mobile biometrics implementation say they have adequate knowledge of the field.

To help close this knowledge gap, Mastercard decided to partner with Oxford, creating Mastercard’s five-factor framework. Before biometrics becomes fully mainstream, performance, usability, interoperability, security and privacy must all be in place.

It’s no coincidence that performance is the first factor on the list. Bhalla is well aware that, if a specific biometrics technology is plagued by a problem like false positives, it’s not going to work. Usability is also important; if a potential solution adds time to a mobile transaction, people aren’t going to want to use it. Instead, the right biometrics needs to work with touch-and-go simplicity.

Interoperability is also a must for technology being used across the industry. And given the type of information that biometric technology needs to protect, the importance of both security and privacy are paramount.

“I think in the next five years we will see a massive change,” Bhalla said. “We are pretty much at the crossroads of all devices being rolled out with a biometric now. I think devices have embraced it, there is a consumer hunger and the compromises and the breaches are extremely high — so I think we have all the factors which can make this a big success.”

As the payment industry continues to evolve, you can count on us to keep you in the loop. Be sure to bookmark and come back weekly for the latest industry news, as well as lots of actionable advice that you can implement in your business.