The increased availability of biometrics, including Apple’s inclusion of a thumbprint scanner on its latest iPhone, is fueling consumers’ interest in the technology, says Frank Natoli, chief innovation officer for Diebold, a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider.
He says Apple’s move “reignited conversations about biometrics by making the technology available to the masses. The myriad devices showcased at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas pushed that conversation even further.”
The popularity of biometrics is growing, Natoli says, because the technology delivers on two critical consumer expectations: convenience and security.
But Natoli says successful biometrics applications must go one step further. “The must achieve three things in priority order: augment security, enhance convenience and efficiency, and minimize liability.”
He recently discussed innovations in biometrics, including possible applications for credit unions, with Credit Union Magazine.
CU Mag: What biometrics technologies are most applicable to CUs?
Natoli: At the financial institution, biometric technology is often used as an authentication tool, as opposed to an identification tool, for both staff and consumers. For instance, retina, thumb, or palm scanners are used to control access to and increase the security of vaults, safes, and restricted areas.
But the recent biometrics buzz is around consumer-facing applications. For credit unions, that means biometrics at the ATM, safety deposit boxes, and mobile banking applications.
These applications are already gaining traction in other parts of the world. In Brazil, nearly every new ATM shipped to a financial institution from Diebold’s plant in São Paulo contains biometric technology.
In the U.S., current consumer-facing biometric technology at financial institutions is limited mostly to enabling access to safety deposit boxes, such as Diebold’s Electronic Vault Attendant (EVA) Elite.
As the prevalence of personal devices with biometric scanners increases and mobile-to-ATM interactions continue to grow, including this layer of authentication for self-service banking channels is a clear opportunity for financial institutions to increase security and convenience for consumers.
CU Mag: What are the benefits of biometrics technology over other security technologies?
Natoli: In recent research commissioned by Diebold, consumers said they are concerned about security and depend on their financial institutions to keep their financial assets and personal information secure.
Apart from convenience, consumers are attracted to biometrics because it is perceived as more secure. The fact is, adding biometrics as an element of multi-factor authentication does increase security.
The key here is multi-factor authentication. Layering biometrics onto one or two other factors greatly minimizes the potential for theft and fraud.
Multi-factor authentication can be achieved through a combination of these four factors:
NEXT: Biometrics in action
Bill Merrick is deputy editor of Credit Union Magazine. Follow him on Twitter via @CUMagazine.