August 06, 2022 By Voila Hub

Biometric Authentication in Mobile Banking: What Banks Need to Know



By now, biometric technologies like fingerprint and facial recognition scanners are second nature to many mobile users worldwide. Our previous blog article, How Biometric Authentication is Shaping the Future of Security in Mobile Banking, explores the 2019 security landscape for biometric authentication, as well as the biometric modalities financial institutions can use to provide heightened security for their mobile app users. The demand for unparalleled security is still a headlining topic in the financial industry and biometric authentication certainly addresses the consumer demand for protection. This article, however, expands on what banks need to know about biometrics for convenience as an emerging must-have functionality for many financial apps and services.


Despite the ever-growing demand for convenience in mobile banking, organizations should note – rushing to incorporate innovation for innovation’s sake can destroy the entire mobile app development process and the final product. The bottom line is incorporating biometric authentication needs to add value to the target user and the benefits must outweigh the cost and complexity of implementation. When it comes to evaluating different biometric solutions for convenience, there are a number of questions banks must ask before adopting the technology.  




Is it user-centric?


The level of depth for convenience in mobile banking apps is rising and to stay relevant in the market, banks need to push the boundaries of biometric technology to address highly specific user pain points. Financial institutions need to focus on using biometric authentication to address frequent in-app behaviors above and beyond the login process and remove friction from the mobile banking experience.


Is it usable?


It’s crucial to make sure the product’s usability design addresses multi-factor security. If a user’s first biometric login attempt fails, the fallback option needs to be optimized for convenience. Don’t rush to do away with PINs and passcodes immediately if manual login can serve as a quick and easy option for users to access their financial information.


Is it accessible?


Many devices today still don’t have access to particular types of biometric authentication, so it’s important to conduct user research to understand what biometric modality best suits the needs of the intended user base.



Is it user-centric?

Apple got the ball rolling for biometric authentication with Touch ID, and as a result, financial institutions are embracing the fingerprint login for mobile banking apps. Even though this is a step forward, the level of depth for convenience is increasing and to stay relevant in the market, banks need to push the boundaries of biometric technology further and resolve highly specific user friction points instead of offering just a generic login option.


Bank of America is one financial institution employing a biometric convenience strategy with its new App Linking feature. With fingerprint scanning, customers can easily switch between the Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Merrill Edge, and U.S. Trust apps without having to authenticate their information each time. The feature is implemented as a button inside the app that recognizes biometric data from the user’s fingerprint. Adding this feature shows Bank of America’s dedication to understanding their users’ in-app behaviors. Bank of America recognizes how often users switch between apps and eliminates the friction with biometric technology to make the mobile app experience more user-focused.

Is it usable?

User experience design is becoming more refined every day. New technologies and polished mobile apps are giving modern banking customers the leeway to demand just as much quality from financial institutions as they receive from other mobile app services. Mobile bank users want access to financial services on-the-go and as a result, mobile banking apps need to be limitless, but no technology is perfect.


Biometric authentication doesn’t work every single time: some iris scanners won’t work with colored contacts, eye print ID doesn’t work if you can’t keep your phone still enough for the scanner, and ambient noise can interfere with voice recognition. For security, banking apps must have a fallback authentication method, but banks need to find the right balance between multi-factor security and mobile app usability. Implementing biometric authentication is meant to eliminate log-in pain points rather than present them to users in a different form.


With multi-factor security, if a user’s first login attempt fails, the alternative authentication option needs to be particularly convenient. For banks, this means the PIN and passcode could still be around for a while. Using biometric authentication and manual password entries to combine something a user is and something a user knows reduces the risk of creating user frustration if biometric login attempts fail; users can quickly enter a familiar passcode and access financial information and services. Mobile banking users will likely see biometric recognition paired with PINs and passcodes for two-factored authentication before manual logins are obsolete.

Is it accessible?

According to Spiceworks reports, roughly 90 percent of businesses will bring into action some form of biometric authentication technology by the year 2020, as of today, 62 percent of businesses are already using biometrics. Despite the upward trend in biometric technology, the financial sector is still lagging behind other industries.  


Financial institutions are just starting to implement the initial phases of biometric authentication into their mobile banking apps, and fingerprint scanning is the starting point for many of these updates. However, consumers don’t look at fingerprint login as a luxury anymore, they view that functionality as a requirement for their mobile banking apps. On top of that, the ever-expanding list of biometric modalities appearing on consumer devices is challenging banks to keep pace with technology at the same rate as their customers, all while being mindful of accessibility.


Biometric modalities are growing at a rapid pace, but not every device comes equipped with facial recognition, retina scanning or palm geometry scanning capabilities. It’s essential for banking institutions to be aware of accessibility when considering offering biometric functionality to mobile users.


For example, HSBC is one of the latest financial institutions to offer Face ID to facilitate the login process for mobile app users. Through user research, HSBC discovered that a fifth of their corporate account holders used an iPhone X for mobile banking. With biometric authentication, HSBC is able to improve the login process for users with an accessible modality all while adding an additional layer of security backed by Apple’s 30,000 point-grid map that’s accurate to one in a million users.   

Addressing User Needs With Biometric Authentication

Banks still have work to do to become digitally proficient in the eyes of mobile banking customers. Looking ahead, the success of banking mobility will be measured by how well financial institutions select features that encourage mobile engagement and preserve trust through mobile app usability. Biometric authentication will play a huge role in this growth period by making mobile banking activities more secure, efficient, and convenient.  





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