Biometric authentication has arguably never been a hotter topic. With well-known brands such as MasterCard and HSBC recently introducing voice and fingerprint recognition, it makes perfect sense for Google to have entered the burgeoning scene. The search giant recently announced the launch of ‘Project Abacus’, introducing biometric authentication across its Android operating system.
Project Abacus will enable users to unlock their devices or sign into applications through a cumulative ‘Trust Score’ instead of just entering passwords or codes. This score will be calculated from a range of factors including location, voice pattern, and facial recognition amongst others, all of which will be collected continually while Project Abacus runs in the background. As an approach fundamentally based on confidence in a user’s authenticity, logging into a mobile banking app, for example, will require a higher Trust Score than a mobile game.
The ideas behind Project Abacus have since been developed into a ‘Trust API’ which is due to enter testing with banks in July before being made available to all Android developers by the end of the year.
Most of us protect our digital identities with passwords although, with data breaches making the headlines on an almost weekly basis, they appear to becoming an increasingly insecure form of protection. In addition, entering complex passwords on a computer, let alone a mobile device, can often prove to be a frustrating experience.
There’s a clear need for alternative means of ensuring digital personas stay intact, and using various biometric authentication methods, alongside or instead of one-time passcodes, can not only improve security but also improve ease of use.
A multi-factor approach, such as that taken by Project Abacus, will provide a superior level of security for organisations, particularly those such as financial service providers, which deal with sensitive, private data.
But it’s not just about security; more can – and needs to be - done to improve the overall user experience.
Engaging with ‘digital first’ consumers
Financial service providers today must find ways of engaging with a generation of ‘digital first’ consumers, who use their mobile devices in practically every aspect of their lives, and who rarely, if ever, interact with a bank’s High Street branch.
When using their mobile device to deal with their bank, these customers are interested in replicating the type of interactive experience they’ve become accustomed to when using messaging services such as FaceTime and WhatsApp. By employing recent advances in rich communication technology, however, such as WebRTC (web real-time communication), banks are able to deliver an experience that suits their customers’ lifestyles and meets their expectations.
Features such as instant messaging, video calling and the encrypted real-time sharing of files and screens at the touch of a button can all be made available through the use of WebRTC technology, and will not only improve an application’s functionality, but also introduce that essential ‘human’ element consumers are now looking for.
Perhaps reassuringly, according to Dean Bubley, lead analyst at Disruptive Analysis, ‘the banking, insurance and related sectors are at the forefront of commercial WebRTC adoption already’.
By combining this rich communication technology with sophisticated security features such as biometric authentication or Google’s ‘Trust Score’, a bank’s customers will now be able to bypass their bank’s physical branch entirely and engage with the appropriate bank staff remotely instead.
Once a customer’s identity has been quickly and securely authenticated, their chat, video or voice call can be directly routed to a member of staff who has prior knowledge of that particular customer and their history with the bank. If no-one is available in the bank to take the call, then it will be diverted instead to an agent in a call centre who can access the customer’s transaction history or take relevant contextual information from the user’s web screen or mobile app.
Connecting the customer with the most appropriate staff, with the necessary information easily to hand, will see calls resolved quickly and easily, with no need for the customer to repeat anything and, ultimately, forming part of a more personal service.
Embrace the opportunities
The integration of increasingly secure authentication techniques with rich communication technologies such as WebRTC will help banks to improve the experience they offer their customers while simultaneously saving time and money and improving efficiencies.
Analysts predict that more than six billion devices will be WebRTC capable by 2019. With a greater number of apps and services than ever before enabling customers to connect and communicate with their banks, it’s never been more important for financial service providers to embrace the opportunities on offer for them to build trust, loyalty, and customer retention.
JF Sullivan, EVP and CMO, at Xura