Biometric authentication methods on smartphones: which one is better?

31 May 2017

Passwords, as a solution to identify users of mobile banking, will soon sink into oblivion. The PIN-code may be initially too primitive to perform its immediate objectives, it can be hacked or stolen. Therefore, banks and other financial institutions are actively expanding the scope of application of the biometric identification technology. What can replace passwords today?

Fingerprint Authentication

The technology of fingerprint recognition for smartphones appeared in 2011 (Motorola Atrix). However, it gained real popularity thanks to Apple, becoming part of the iPad and iPhone. Biometric system is actively applied for securing the smartphone and making mobile transactions, being a full-fledged payment instrument in the App Store or using the Apple Pay service. The technology is more convenient, as there is no need to enter a PIN-code.

However, unlike passwords, which can easily be changed in case of hacking, fingerprints cannot be modified. The danger lies in the fact that technology is introduced into modern electronic passports and visas. Accordingly, if cybercriminals capture biometric data, its continued use will entail serious risks.

Fingerprint Authentication

Retina Scanning

In summer, 2015 Japanese manufacturer of Fujitsu smartphones proposed a system that allows to authorize purchases with “eye” scanning. Since then manufacturers started making smartphones with a scanner, which turned the retina into a password. Moreover, Vodafone Turkey mobile operator chose this type of biometric data as a way to protect a mobile wallet.

The retina recognition technology is extremely advanced and complex, which makes almost any hacking attempts useless. The user’s retina data are stored on the smartphone, not on the bank’s servers. This allows to simultaneously provide additional protection for customers and make the use of mobile banking easier.

Voice Biometrics

Finally, banks became able to find an alternative way to identify the customer by phone. The voice recognition system simply compares the caller’s voice with the archive record of the customer’s voice when opening an account. So, American Bank Wells Fargo introduced the use of identification method when logging into mobile banking: it is easier for the consumer to confirm the transaction, increases level of loyalty, and the bank gains new customers.

In addition, voice biometrics is actively implemented in the call-centers of banks. Such an authentication model makes it possible to verify the identity of the caller without a code word, which is often forgotten. However, the voice is the weakest and most vulnerable biometric modality, which strongly depends on ambient noise and can be easily intercepted by third-party technical means.

Face recognition

This type of identification is possible both with online purchases and in traditional stores. The principle of operation is the same as with a fingerprint: the system binds user’s image to their account. Through a mobile banking application, customers can log into accounts with one click of selfie. The bank confirms their identity with the help of facial recognition software. It is assumed that the new service will eliminate the need to memorize digital codes and shorten the identification time.

The International Payment System MasterCard has recently launched in 12 European countries the option to confirm online transactions using selfie. Amazon, Uber and even some US government organizations are moving in the same direction. Undoubtedly, the technology is convenient, but it is not a panacea, especially since a hacked password can be changed, but in the case of the user’s face it will be harder to do so.

Voice authentication

Ubiquitous mobility has become one of the integral trends for FinTech. To the present day, it is difficult to imagine any new financial application without the use of biometrics. In the future, it is planned to combine multiple authentication technologies to ensure the highest level of comfort and security. It should be noted that bimodal biometrics is already being actively introduced into remote maintenance systems. Thus, taking into account the growing competition in the banking sector and payment systems market, it can be stated that only financial institutions that are the first to assess and realize the potential of biometric technologies will be winners in this struggle.

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