Poor Password Practices and Growing Acceptance of Biometrics in Financial Accounts

Only 40% of UK citizens use separate passwords across each of their financial accounts. This is according to the FICO Consumer Digital Banking Study, which showed a large proportion of people do not undertake recommended practices regarding logins and passwords in their financial accounts. The findings are particularly concerning in light of the substantial rise in eCommerce during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The research also found that more than a fifth of British people have just two to five passwords, which they re-use across all their financial accounts. Interestingly, the 55+ age category was the group most likely to have separate passwords between accounts (41%), in line with recommendations.

Additionally, 18% of those surveyed stated they write their passwords down, which is widely seen as a security weakness, while only 18% use recommended password management software.

Just under half (42%) claimed to be able to remember their passwords and almost a quarter (24%) revealed that they have abandoned an online purchase because of forgetting their username or password.

More positively, there was a high rate of acceptance recorded for the use of biometric security methods (71%) in online banking. For logging into a banking app, 48% said they would be happy to use a fingerprint scan, 25% a facial image and 23% a voiceprint.

“Whilst our research was conducted just before the COVID-19 lockdown, the findings send a very clear message that UK consumers understand the greater security benefits of biometrics over passwords,” said Sarah Rutherford, identity solutions expert, FICO. “Since face-to-face interactions are likely to be reduced for some time to come, it is crucial for consumers and financial institutions to have mutual respect for the benefits biometrics deliver – not just for security but in terms of removing the delay and friction from financial transactions.

“Consumers don’t generally manage their passwords well, so biometrics offers a far more simple and secure way to verify a person’s ID.”

The huge rise in remote working in recent months is another reason why it is becoming increasingly important for people to improve their password practices, and this may serve to accelerate moves towards biometric-based systems of authentication across all sectors.

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