Banks piling into biometric security

Picture: Thinkstock

Picture: Thinkstock

Passwords, pin codes and endless paperwork may become a thing of the past, as banks increasingly turn to voice authentication, fingerprint and eye biometrics to verify customer identity and enable transactions.

Credit bureau TransUnion, in partnership with local voice biometric authentication company OneVault, is working on building a national voice bank in South Africa to curb fraud and improve the customer experience.

Voice bank

Although still in the early stages, TransUnion hopes to eventually build a national, shared voice bank for South Africa. OneVault currently has 30 000 voice prints, most acquired via TransUnion’s customer call centre and the bureau expects this number to grow rapidly.

TransUnion is using its knowledge factor-based authentication model – where credit bureau information generates a list of questions used to authenticate the identity of a customer – to build a database of customers who have been authenticated via an “inherent factor” – their unique voice print.

“We call this ‘ground-truthing’,” quips Claire Fawbert, director for product development and innovation at TransUnion. “It’s 80% faster to authenticate a customer using voice biometrics than using the traditional knowledge factor,” Fawbert adds.

“Generally all the [local] solutions have been on-premise solutions, which are bought from us and implemented into a company’s IT environment,” explains OneVault’s Vanda Dickson.

OneVault is doing a proof of concept and roll out with two retail banks in South Africa. That Investec has already rolled out voice biometrics, said Dickson, to some degree “opens the floodgates”.

According to Nuance, a multinational computer software corporation, its customers have experienced up to a 10 times reduction in fraud by migrating to voice biometrics.

Nuance said voice biometrics also enable organisations to store the voiceprints of known fraudsters.

Standard Bank, meanwhile, said it is piloting an eye biometrics project and recently launched fingerprint authentication for mobile banking customers via the Standard Bank app.

“When it comes to security, you can never rely on one feature. So in our bank apps, biometrics is used at the front door but, for example, if you want to pay a new recipient we would require you to do something else. We call this step-up security,” explains Magnus Taljaard, head of mobile banking.

Branching out

To combat identity theft, Capitec, which has fingerprint details of all 6.2 million of its customers, has linked its biometric database to the Department of Home Affairs’ (DOH) database, enabling it to verify customer identity.

When the security of a customer’s account is compromised or they would like to change their personal information, they can do so only by presenting their fingerprints in branch, comments Charl Nel, Capitec’s head of communications.

Nel said Capitec is piloting fingerprint technology at eight of its cash-recycling ATMs, but has not yet decided whether to roll this out further.




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