Global Fraud Trends

You can’t have just one password these days. Some accounts require capital letters, some a symbol, some a password you haven’t used in the past few years.  

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Biometrics and authentication: A whole new way to think about security

Sep 20, 2017

Global Fraud Trends

You can’t have just one password these days. Some accounts require capital letters, some a symbol, some a password you haven’t used in the past few years.   As the world gets increasingly digital, the number of passwords people have to manage is becoming overwhelming. In fact, it is expected that within five years, consumers will have to remember, on average, over 200 user name/password combinations.

But what if there was another way.  Because companies in banking, payments and technology recognize that consumers demand convenience, they’ve developed solutions that give it to them.  In the near future, your new password will be, well… you.  Your body. Or at least part of it.

Biometrics — the unique biological measurements that can be digitized and turned into a trackable record –are predicted to be the future of authentication.  In 2016, for instance some $600 million in transactions were authenticated by biometrics.  According to a report from Juniper Research that number is expected to rise to nearly $2 billion this year.

Whether it’s a fingerprint, your heartbeat, a scan of your eye, or even voice verification, biometrics are becoming increasingly popular as a way to verify payments.  Digital phone companies are using fingerprint biometrics tools to unlock mobile devices.  Facial recognition is being tested in airports as a passenger screening device, and several banks have launched voice recognition solutions for call center/phone banking authentication, eliminating the need for a customer to remember an account number, password, or answers to security questions.

Convenience AND security

While customer convenience is certainly important, biometrics are largely applauded for their ability to fight fraud.

Passwords and security questions can be easily compromised, particularly when a consumer uses the same password in many places. Even the most obscure password is vastly inferior to biometric authentication; no one has the same fingerprint, eyes, ears, voice, or heartbeat, so “guessing” a biometric password is nearly impossible.

The security of biometric authentication is also maximized when more than one “feature” is required, such as such as a combination of voice and facial recognition, or fingerprint and retina scans. Since most smartphones are already equipped with microphones, cameras, and fingerprint sensors, getting multiple biometric checks should not be a problem for most consumers, while making it next to impossible for hackers to spoof, or fool, the phone into giving them access.

The future is a win-win.

Biometrics in payments keep consumer data secure without inconveniencing consumers. Relieved of the responsibility of designing and remembering strong passwords or carrying multiple payment cards, consumers can also enjoy simplified transactions online.

Mastercard®, for example, has unveiled its “Selfie” payment technology; customers take a selfie to verify their identity for payment. This can speed up transactions over having to enter a password or insert a chip into an EMV-enabled terminal.

Biometrics can also save businesses time and money. In areas like Loss Prevention or Time and Attendance, the technology is fast, reliable, easy to use, difficult to forge and cost-effective. There is no time spent searching for lost tokens or recovering passwords for employees who have forgotten them.

Experts predict that more biometric apps will enter the market and technologies will continue to improve, making biometrics even more prevalent.  As more businesses enjoy these advantages, adoption is set to grow rapidly.

It’s not science fiction.  In the very near future, you can expect to see transaction authorization via infrared iris scans.  Researchers are exploring options for behavioral biometrics, which measure the way you hold your phone, the way you sit and how you walk. With the growing ubiquity of fitness features, it’s expected that the next generation of mobile biometrics will use electrocardiograms, or heart beats, to authenticate users.

TSYS® will stay on top of this burgeoning field, investigating acceptable biometric alternatives for authenticating mobile banking users that balance both security and simplicity. Find the right solution to fight fraud at your business. Contact a TSYS representative today.

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