Nationwide tests behavioural biometrics for online banking

Nationwide has begun testing behavioural biometrics as a new method to help keep the financial information of its users secure when doing mobile banking on a smartphone.

The company is now exploring the ways in which smartphone users interact with their phones - from how fast they type to how they hold their devices - as a new way to verify and authenticate the consumers who use its mobile banking services.

Nationwide has collaborated with the Finish tech startup Behaviosec and the IT firm Unisys to develop a prototype that can put behavioural biometrics to use as a means of ensuring the security of its users. It took the three companies around three to six months to build the prototype.

Nationwide's head of innovation, James Smith thinks that “The prototype provides an exciting insight into what the future may hold, as we investigate new ways to enhance security while offering an improved mobile banking experience”.

The company hopes to begin delving into how this new technology could be incorporated into the customer login process. It will not replace the traditional means of security but will work alongside passwords, fingerprints and other forms of biometrics.

When Nationwide surveyed its customers, 60 per cent of them believed that within the next 10 years, retina scanners will be built into smartphones to enable greater security. 30 per cent of those surveyed believe that face scans will one day be used to unlock smartphones.

Private sensitive information can never be too secure and the fact that Nationwide and other financial institutions are exploring biometrics as a new security tool might benefit their customers who have embraced mobile banking and have come to rely on it.

Paco Garcia, CTO at Yoti commented: “Nationwide is the latest in a long line of banks to announce it is looking for new ways to prove customer identity online. Banks are looking for an alternative to passwords in a bid to make customers’ lives easier and speed up the authentication process, all while ensuring customer data stays safe.

“In the case of Nationwide, the focus on behavioural biometrics – how a customer holds, swipes, or types into their device – marks part of a larger trend towards the use of biometrics in the banking industry, whether that be the use of a customer’s heartbeat, fingerprint or a selfie. In future, consumers will be able to prove who they are online using just their face, eliminating the use of a traditional password altogether. They'll be able to simply and securely log into multiple sites without the need to remember long, complicated passwords.

"It will be interesting to see how behavioural biometrics will work alongside other methods of authentication such as a PIN, selfie or fingerprint, to allow for stronger security in a much simpler way than a traditional password system.”

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