Treasury Today Country Profiles in association with Citi

Smile and enter: biometric authentication set to boost treasury mobile usage

Person using facial recognition to unlock their phone

Securing the system whilst offering a great user experience is the key to encouraging more treasury professionals to use mobile banking channels.

Treasurers may soon be able to discard their cumbersome bank security tokens as emerging technology enables banks to secure mobile banking portals using advanced biometric authentication.

The latest example of this comes from HSBC, making it one of the first banks to allow its corporate customers to access its mobile banking portal using facial recognition technology.

The solution recognises facial features, analysing over 30,000 reference points to create a ‘depth map’ of the individual’s face. HSBC’s Face ID log-on connects the bank’s mobile application programming interface (API) securely to the phone’s software to authenticate the user.

Currently, the solution is available to the bank’s customers in 24 markets. The first smartphone to support Face ID is Apple’s iPhone X. Facial recognition authentication will be rolled out to other devices.

Mobile on the move

The bank’s decision to allow treasurers to access their online banking portal in this way is about improving the user experience for its clients, says Niall Cameron, ‎Global Head of Corporate and Institutional Digital at HSBC.

“We are seeing a tremendous growth in mobile usage from treasurers,” says Cameron. “In the last year alone, for example, corporate usage of HSBCnet Mobile grew by 60%. To ensure this trend continues it is important that the experience using the mobile banking portal is seamless. Facial recognition authentication facilitates this.”

Cameron notes that the way treasurers use mobile banking portals is also changing. Indeed, data shows that many treasurers are moving beyond simply using their mobile banking portal as a tool to view balances and transfers. “Today, more and more of our clients are becoming comfortable transacting on mobile as well.”

Security, which has always been paramount, therefore becomes an even greater priority for treasurer’s using the system. To that end, HSBC claims that Face ID offers an enhanced user experience and strong security. Data from Apple suggests that there is less than one in a million chance of somebody being able to fraudulently access the system using Face ID.

Biometric future

To give its clients peace of mind, Cameron says that treasurers will still require a physical token should they wish to transact on the app. However, he expects this to change as biometric technology matures.

“Multi-factor biometric identification is the future,” states Cameron. “This will allow banks to offer the Holy Grail of a great customer experience alongside water-tight security.”