Biometrics in the Branch: Transforming the Bricks-and-Mortar Experience
While once considered the stuff of science fiction, biometric technology is becoming part of our everyday lives. Biometrics use human characteristics – voice, fingerprints, palm or iris vein patterns – for purposes ranging from identification to task initiation. Smartphones, such as the iPhone® 6, put fingerprint authentication into people's pockets, while devices like the Amazon Echo bring voice command technology into homes.
Biometric technology has the potential to change how people go about everyday tasks, including how they bank. Replacing passwords with fingerprints, for example, can simplify the login process for online and mobile banking. Within the most traditional and long-standing banking channel – the branch – biometrics can positively impact the experience of customers and staff, as well as boost efficiency.
It starts the minute a customer walks in the door. Identifying customers via biometric technology, such as facial recognition, means branch staff can be notified of who has arrived and have that customer's information in front of them – before the customer steps up to the teller counter or shakes hands with a banker.
This quick access to information, such as customer history, contact information, transactions, services currently used and a detailed list of their preferences, can give staff a head start in creating positive customer interactions. For example, a high-net worth customer could be easily identified for VIP treatment, while a loan officer could be alerted to the arrival of someone who has just applied for a loan.
Biometrics technology, such as palm or iris scans, can also be particularly useful for authenticating accountholders and securing transactions. In the face of increasing fraud threats and data breaches, biometric technology can provide added security, reducing reliance on passwords and other conventional security systems.
Fiserv recently announced the integration of palm-vein reader technology from Fujitsu into the DNA core account processing platform from Fiserv. The technology's palm vein sensors use a near-infrared light to capture a user's palm vein pattern. To authenticate accountholders in the branch, that unique biometric template is matched against the palm vein patterns of pre-registered users to add an extra layer of security to sensitive transactions, such as withdrawing funds or accessing a safe deposit box.
For tellers and other branch staff, logging into a system using fingerprint or voice recognition enhances security by preventing the use of shared credentials. Financial institutions can use biometric information to authenticate employees and their actions, creating internal security measures and an essential audit trail.
Saving staff time and increasing process efficiencies are additional benefits of biometric technology. Time spent on password management, including resetting forgotten passwords, is reduced or eliminated. With biometrics still in the relatively early stages, back-up authentication methods still need to be in place, enabling a teller with a bad cold to log in with a PIN instead of voice recognition, for example.
The Future of Biometrics and Banking
Biometric capabilities also complement other emerging technologies such as beacons or wearables. In the branch, beacons, which are used to transmit messages to nearby mobile devices, can push messages and information to consumers as they enter. And biometric technology can enable authentication for wearables via fingerprints or even heartbeats.
The way biometrics are used will likely align to the situation, transaction and the financial services channel. Whatever form it takes, the use of biometric technology in the financial services industry is increasing. According to a 2015 Mobey Forum global survey of financial institutions, 22 percent currently offer biometrics to their customers and 65 percent plan to offer services in the near future.
With the potential to transform a wide range of financial experiences, biometric technologies can help make the financial services experience more convenient and secure for consumers and financial institutions – and ultimately deliver a better customer experience.