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HSBC Set for UK’s Biggest Biometrics Roll-Out

HSBC is set to launch voice and fingerprint biometric authentication in a bid to improve security and usability for online account holders.

The banking giant will offer its 15 million customers the chance to log into their accounts via Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint scanning service or voice-activated authentication powered by speech recognition specialist Nuance.

Subsidiary First Direct will be the first to switch on the service for its customers over the next few weeks followed by HSBC in the summer, according to the BBC.

"The launch of voice and touch ID makes it even quicker and easier for customers to access their bank account, using the most secure form of password technology – the body," said Francesca McDonagh, HSBC UK's head of retail banking and wealth management.

RBS and NatWest already support fingerprint scanning while Barclays apparently offers voice recognition to some corporate clients.

Anthony Duffy, director of retail banking at Fujitsu UK & Ireland, welcomed the roll-out as a highly accurate, cost-effective and scalable way of replacing password-based systems.

“Deployment of biometric technologies in British banking is still in its infancy, but will become commonplace. Customers will become increasingly familiar with it as it enters other parts of their lives,” he added.

“Already, biometric technologies are commonplace in mobile phones and are increasingly appearing in workplaces, particularly in controlling access to secure locations and in enabling use of technology such as laptops, tablets and the PC mouse. As users become comfortable with the technology, and increasingly appreciate its value in strengthening security of personal information and transaction details, we expect deployments of biometric technologies to become a mainstay of the financial services industry.”

Security experts have been calling for biometrics as a replacement for passwords for years, as they can’t be phished or cracked in the same way. However, concerns persist over false positives and false negatives.

Image credit: TungCheung / Shutterstock.com

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