The New Face of Biometrics
Let’s say you’re traveling far from home, ready to check out of a hotel when you realize you’ve lost your wallet. How can you quickly pay your expenses and get on to your next destination?
Or, while out for lunch, you get a message from your insurance company about a change to your plan that you didn’t initiate. How can you quickly stop and report the fraud?
Or worse yet, you come across the perfect shirt at a great price online and add it to your virtual cart — but you don’t have your credit card with you. The shirt lingers in cyberspace limbo.
The solution to these dilemmas may be coming soon to a mobile device near you: biometrics software that reads your face, voice, fingerprints, eye prints and other unique traits to identify who you are.
By Christine Neff
Many have been thinking of biometrics only in terms of robust user authentication — replacing passwords for access to devices, for example. But the future of biometrics lies in improving the user experience and spans the industries of banking, financial services, insurance, healthcare, retail and beyond.
“Companies need a product that creates an excellent user experience and allows customers access from multiple devices,” says Todd Hawkins, global director for CSC’s ConfidentID practice. Biometric technology can contribute to connected device management, app protection, and cloud and data security. Companies are starting to grasp the possibilities.
CSC has been developing and deploying biometrics technology since 2002. Grown in the CSC Identity Labs, CSC’s biometrics first supported wartime efforts to identify terrorists. Now, with software partners, its ConfidentID biometrics solution has gone commercial.
Recently, CSC managed multiple pilot programs that used facial recognition to authenticate purchases for a large credit card processing company. (Those items in your online shopping cart? Briefly stare at the phone and blink — and they’re yours!)
Currently, CSC is working with Atom Bank, a first-of-its-kind, mobile-only bank in the United Kingdom that relies on biometric technology. Atom Bank uses ConfidentID to balance user experience with security. The bank’s game-like app employs a variety of authentication methods — standard pass codes, facial and voice recognition, fingerprints — to verify customers at different steps of the banking process. More significant tasks, such as transferring money, require more secure levels of authentication.
“If you’re developing any kind of app today — for the millennials, for the digital world — users don’t have time to wait. Everything has to be immediate,” says Atom Bank’s chief operating officer, Stewart Bromley.
The completely self-service banking model means everything from joining the bank to opening an account to depositing large amounts of money can be done on the phone without any human interaction. And, with ConfidentID, it can be done quickly and safely.
“You can join the bank, go through the security ID process and set up an account in 5 to 6 minutes,” Bromley says.
All coming together
The speed with which today’s biometrics can verify identity is one of the reasons companies are turning to the technology more frequently. Facial recognition software, which often requires a blink to prove you’re a live person and not just a picture, captures the necessary information nearly instantaneously — faster than you can pose. Even multiple authentication methods are completed in a matter of seconds.
Accuracy is another perk, as it is now possible to get multiple biometric readings via a single device. ConfidentID acts as a “gatekeeper,” producing a score based on the type of biometrics technology and the data it receives, Hawkins explains. “We send that score back to the business server of our customers, and they can make a decision at that point to ask for more technology or go ahead with the transaction.”
That flexibility will be important as biometrics expands to areas such as the Internet of Things. “Connected homes, wearables, refrigerators, cars — all of these particular transactions will need some form of authentication, and that’s what we’re starting to build toward,” Hawkins says.
Like CSC, Atom Bank envisions a future that employs new types of authentication to improve user experience: voice recognition tied to voice control of devices; behavior authentication; even brain wave recognition that can lead to “telepathic” commands.
“We see the mobile device itself as having a relatively limited life span of no more than 10 years,” says Bromley. “Ultimately, our vision is to become the first telepathic bank.”
Telepathic transactions? Now that would make it easy to buy those items in your online cart.
Up and Atom
Atom Bank provides a glimpse into the future of banking. Expected to launch in spring 2016, the UK bank runs entirely by mobile app. There’s not a single physical branch or even a desktop website where customers can perform transactions. It’s a completely self-service model that requires human interaction only if a user gets stuck on a technology or banking issue.
“Atom is one of the first of its kind around the world,” says Stewart Bromley, chief operating officer. “We are a mobileonly bank, and we are a full bank offering full services for consumers, small- and medium-sized businesses.” The app, which uses a gaming platform and 3D rendering system with graphics and animations, is secured by ConfidentID biometrics authentication. Customers use tools such as facial and voice recognition to get into the app and perform various functions, from setting up an account to transferring funds.
The app is personalized for each user — from the colors on the screen to the logo. “Every single customer has a different Atom brand. This bank in your pocket is completely tailored to you. The whole experience is completely unique to you,” Bromley says.
While this model of banking is cutting edge for today, Atom Bank continues to look ahead for tomorrow’s disruptors. On the horizon, says Bromley, are behavior authentication (how you hold a phone and tap the buttons), voice controls, and iris and brainwave recognition. ConfidentID makes it easy to add new authentication methods as they become available.
Christine Neff is a content editor with CSC’s global content team.