After several months of testing, USAA has formally launched a version of its mobile app that gives members the opportunity to gain secure access through facial recognition or voice-based verification. Long regarded as an innovator in mobile-first, multichannel, digital commerce, the company notes that this innovation makes it the first U.S. financial institution to protect member security by taking this dual biometric approach.
The app enables users to pay bills, make deposits and transfer funds. Members with iPhone 6’s or the soon-to-be available Apple Watch will also be able to use Apple Pay’s pay-by-touch feature once they add their USAA credit or debit cards to the Near Field Communications-based (NFC-based) service.
According to a report by Patrick Danner in Hearst Newspapers’ San Antonio Express-News, Daon – a specialist in mobile authentication, identity management and biometrics – provides the dual biometric technology through its Trusted Identity Services business unit. The service has been piloted for months in California, Texas and Florida, as well as in Georgia, North Carolina, New York, Washington, Colorado, Maryland, Arizona, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee and Illinois.
Danner notes that, based on the trials, USAA observed that “customers overwhelmingly prefer facial recognition over voice,” attributing the preference to the fact that voice is “susceptible to background noise,” which can make logging in take longer. USAA’s approach defeats efforts to spoof photos with pictures by requiring member so blink three times in order to authenticate.
During the panel discussion entitled “Achieving the Dream: Simple, Secure Communications Across Multiple Channels” at VBC London 2014, USAA’s Executive Director of Emerging Capabilities Darrius Jones explained how his company is simplifying access to a wide range of services over their channel of choice and device of choice. Biometric log-on is a small, but vital part of making personalized, secure services easy for its 10+ million members. Given its 92+ year history of serving members of the Armed Forces and their families, the need to keep things secure and simple is obvious.
Spring will bring enhancements to MasterCard’s cybersecurity technologies that will add an independent layer of security resources “on top of the tools and policies of financial institutions.” Dubbed MasterCard Safety Net in the U.S., the service will monitor transactions that cross the MasterCard network and, “only in extreme cases”, block fraudulent activity.
Later in the year, MasterCard and First Tech Federal Credit Union will pilot a new service that will enable First Tech members to authenticate and verify their own transactions using a combination of biometric factors, which may include face, voice and fingerprints.
First Tech and MasterCard had already established a relationship that made MasterCard the payment solutions provider for its 380,000 members. As part of that agreement the credit union will issue new credit and debit cards to all of its members. The new cards will embed EMV Chip and PIN technology as a first-line defense against fraud. It will then follow up with new features and functions, including a new rewards program, card personalization and “tokenization programs.”
Since its headquarters are in Mountain View, CA, (in the center of the Silicon Valley), it serves employees of some of the most prominent high-tech firms in the world, including HP, Microsoft, Agilent, Intel, CISCO, Amazon, Intuit and Google. With MasterCard as its primary provider of payment solutions, it is an ideal test bed for biometric-based payment authorization. Opus Research fully expects First Tech will find its members as enthusiastic as those at USAA who are using both face and voice to authenticate themselves when using the new mobile app.
Dan Miller is the lead analyst and founder of Opus Research – an advisory and analysis firm providing critical insight on software and services that support multi-modal customer care. Opus Research is hosting the upcoming Voice Biometric Conference in New York City from May 4 through 5.
February 25, 2015 – by Dan Miller