Barclays Deploys Biometrics Access Which Highlights the Lack of Biometric Standards

by Tim Sloane 0

This announcement in Finextra that Barclays has released a online banking hub for business customers that relies on Hitachi’s Finger Vein Authentication Technology, which is not the same as fingerprint technology and relies on a central database for verification rather than keeping the biometric on the user’s device:

“A brand new product, built from the ground up using agile delivery methodology rather than retooling or overlaying existing ones, Barclays iPortal provides an immediate snapshot of bank accounts and products and enables users to authorise payments, manage cash, trade services and loan facilities from a single log-in.

The roll-out of the new dashboard-style service is complemented by the shipment of a biometric reader which uses Hitachi’s Finger Vein Authentication Technology, eliminating the need to remember PINs and passwords.

Michael Mueller, head of cash management at Barclays comments: “Corporate banking solutions that bridge existing products produce disparate, complex and outdated systems that require multiple logins on a variety of platforms, making banking a time-consuming and disjointed process. With iPortal, we are changing all that.””

Barclay’s should be applauded for deploying this integrated and convenient solution to its business customers. Yet it is disconcerting to see banks all going in several different directions related to biometric authentication with almost no information regarding effectiveness or plan for harmonization.

There are many different biometrics available from suppliers, from fingerprint and vein detection to face and voice detection to name just a few. Each implementation collects the biometric information in a different way and analyzes the data to create a unique hash differently. While there is an ISO standard for testing biometrics, Mercator has only seen one vendor provide information regarding false positive and false negative rates based on such testing.

So at the same time we see biometric adoption taking off both on personal devices and banking products, we are left to wonder if the biometric is really secure, where the biometric will be stored and protected, and how it will be used or shared.

Overview by Tim Sloane, VP, Payments Innovation at Mercator Advisory Group

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