Biometrics: A Financial Solution

Biometrics: A Financial Solution

The future of bank account security lies in the hands of each person. In the last 10 years, the trend in device and account security has been to leave passwords and NIPS behind in favor of biometric data such as fingerprints or facial recognition. This advance is notorious in cell phones where through fingerprint sensors and face detection, one can access its use. This technology went from being a feature unique to expensive models, in the middle of the decade, to one found in even the cheapest smartphones by the end of 2020.

In the financial world, this technology is being used more and more. Electronic banking applications of the most important banks in the country already have fingerprint and/or face reading as a verification method. For transfers and inquiries, the user only has to pass his finger over the reader of his cell phone and that’s it. For many industry analysts, this is a step in the right direction; the years have shown that the password, no matter how complex it was, was not secure enough.

Passwords vs Fingerprints

According to information technology consultant and researcher Gartner , “simple password-based verification has become too complicated and ineffective.” This is because in order to have a “secure” password, very specific characteristics are needed. Boston University, for example, recommends a mixed use of numbers, upper and lower case letters, and symbols such as hashtags, ampersands, and punctuation marks. And yet, with a nonsensical combination of symbols and numbers, the most common method of electronic fraud remains phishing; scammers just have to trick users into giving them the password themselves and they can start stealing.

A change was more than necessary and today alternative verification measures are already being implemented, two-step verification and biometrics, which are among the most popular today. Now, it is important to clarify that when the word biometrics is used, they are talking about intrinsic characteristics of an individual, but they go beyond fingerprint and facial recognition. Among the characteristics contemplated is also the voice and behavior patterns. If, for example, an artificial intelligence system detects access from an unusual device and location, biometric verification could automatically be deployed to the user’s cell phone.

This is not to say that biometrics are completely secure. Although it is extremely difficult , there have been people who have succeeded in copying a fingerprint . Also a biometric verification is of little use if a criminal forces the user to unlock an account in front of him. The risk exists, no matter how small it may be. One thing is certain, when 72% of individuals use the same password in several accounts, the cybersecurity advantages of new technologies for both the user and the companies far outweigh the disadvantages.

The Future Is Shopping With Your Finger

While today the use of biometric data such as fingerprints is already a reality in electronic banking, the PIN is still used in establishments. This alone is already a step forward from the days of the handwritten signature, but in a pandemic landscape where as little contact as possible is sought, it is clear that an alternative is needed. Today the alternative is contactless cards (without contact). These cards are not inserted into terminals, but are instead swiped over a sensor without touching it. By not requiring an explicit verification method at checkout, they generally have a low transaction limit. In Mexico , a couple of national banks already handle these cards. Its use is not yet so common but it is growing, currently only the 30% of the terminals in the country have the technology to accept them.

Looking to the future, the trend is that the same cards come to have fingerprint sensors and that they work together with contactless payment to make the payment process safer and more hygienic. The use of PINs and passwords will not disappear, but it will slowly fall into disuse. Using data from recent years, the Mercator consultancy estimates that 66% of people will use biometric verification exclusively. Visa already has pilot programs for this technology in Europe and these programs are already beginning to reach the US If the trend continues, in the first half of this decade the technology could reach Mexico. We will have to wait and see how the market adapts to these technological advances, but for both the consumer and the banks, the benefits can already be seen in current applications.

Also Read: Facial Recognition And Its Privacy Threats

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