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Could behavioural biometrics replace banking passwords?

Written by: Emma Lunn
NatWest is developing behavioural biometrics technology which, it says, could replace banking passwords.

Natwest claims it is the first UK bank to consider using biometric technology in order to comply with new banking rules that come into effect next year.

Companies that sell online must introduce Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) requirements by 14 March 2021.

SCA is part of PSD2 rules which will impact the way we pay for things. It adds an extra layer of security designed to prevent payment fraud and check that it is the cardholder making the payment.

The new rules will mean that for online transactions over €30, customers will no longer be able to checkout online using just their credit or debit card details – they will also need to provide an additional form of identification. This could be a password, biometric authentication such as a fingerprint, or having a phone that can identify them.

NatWest is working with Visa on behavioural biometrics technology to comply with the rules but says the new technology could also replace passwords and help make payments more secure.

Behavioural biometrics works by analysing the unique ways a customer interacts with their device when making an online purchase. The technology uses this information to confirm who is making the purchase and does not access or share any private data held on a device.

Natwest says it’s the first bank to test the technology specifically for the purpose of SCA compliance and that the development represents a major breakthrough in the application of biometric technology.

Georgina Bulkeley, NatWest director of strategy and innovation, says: “We continue to explore biometrics and how they can be used to make payments easier and simpler for our customers. The success of a pilot of this new technology demonstrates our ongoing commitment to developing innovative ways of enhancing customer experience while prioritising security.”

Jeni Mundy, Visa managing director UK & Ireland, says: “Behavioural biometrics has already been deployed successfully for the purpose of fraud prevention, and now, following work between regulators and industry partners including Visa, has been approved as a second layer of security to be used alongside one-time passcodes in the context of Strong Customer Authentication.”

The new behavioural biometric technology follows on from NatWest’s pilots of biometric fingerprint technology with debit and credit cards which allowed payments of up to £100 to be verified using a fingerprint instead of PIN.

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