Biometrics as a competitive advantage for financial institutions - interview with iProov

Wednesday 8 December 2021 08:54 CET | Editor: Mirela Ciobanu | Interview

The Paypers spoke to Andrew Bud from iProov to find out more about how FIs are benefiting from using biometrics for online user verification and authentication

How has the digital identity in the financial services landscape evolved over the last 10 years?

When I founded iProov ten years ago, I was aiming to solve a global problem: how can banks and other organisations be truly certain that an online individual is who they claim to be? Before iProov, I had built the world’s largest processor of mobile payments. We were targeted by fraudsters and millions of pounds were stolen from customers. I realised we weren’t just facing a payment problem: it was about trust and identity. I set about finding a solution and created Genuine Presence Assurance, which is iProov’s flagship technology.

In those ten years, I’ve seen a lot of changes in digital identity in financial services. The first striking evolution has been the dramatic transfer from financial activities being done in person or via letter to online. Ten years ago, it was still unusual to think that you could begin and complete secure transactions online. Now, we all absolutely take it for granted. Therefore, the whole question of digital identity, which was theoretical ten years ago, is something that financial institutions talk about and invest in.

Another change is that ten years ago, the question of authentication was not a big thing. Over the last decade, money laundering in particular has grown to the point where it is regarded as a national security threat. The financial services industry has to take that deadly seriously and so the need for secure digital authentication and identity verification has become a priority.

And lastly, there has been a revolution in the understanding of cybercrime. Ten years ago, when people thought about cybercrime, they thought about teenage hackers in their bedrooms. Now everybody understands that the real adversaries are highly resourced teams from serious organised criminal networks and the security services of national state actors for whom fraud and money laundering are a significant source of revenue. So, the biggest change has been an awareness that cybercrime and identity theft are not just risks. Identity verification is fundamental to the security of society, and the financial services industry is fighting skilled, powerful, well-resourced, and determined adversaries.

What are the benefits of using biometrics for financial services (boost onboarding and UX, prevent cybercrime, support digital transformation, etc)?

There are three areas where FIs can really benefit from online biometrics. The first is onboarding. New account fraud (NAF) and money laundering are both global problems and regulators are going to ramp up AML rules in 2022 and beyond. Biometric face verification can help financial institutions to prevent criminals from opening accounts using fake and synthetic identities or stealing other people’s identities to run up debt in their name. This verification is done by asking a new customer to confirm their identity using their face and a trusted document. A customer simply uses any device with a user-facing camera to scan their passport or driver’s license and then scans their face to verify that the photo in the document matches the physical person making the application. The benefits of this for the enterprise are clear: it’s secure, it prevents financial loss, it’s inclusive to any user and maximises completion rates and it prevents regulatory penalties. Meanwhile, the customer gets maximum convenience and reassurance.

The second area is authentication. Once you have onboarded the customer using biometric face verification, you have the ability to make ongoing online authentication very simple for your users. Biometric authentication can replace passwords for primary authentication, or it can be used as an ‘inherence’ factor in multi-factor authentication.

The third area is identity recovery. When a customer loses their mobile device, or it gets stolen or broken, a vulnerability is created. How does the financial institution know that someone calling up to restore access to their apps on a new device is genuine? Biometric face authentication provides the security that is needed for such a process while making it simple and hassle-free for the customer.

What could be challenging when trying to tap into new ways of verifying and authenticating users? How to overcome these, to reach the benefits?

There are certainly a number of myths surrounding biometric authentication such as the idea that biometrics are too ‘high-tech’ for example, or that biometric authentication infringes on the privacy or that biometrics can be stolen. On the privacy front, I think society is starting to acknowledge the difference between face recognition for surveillance and face verification for identity protection. Facebook’s recent decision to stop using face recognition while committing to face verification was another marker for that. iProov technology is designed so that it’s worthless if stolen.

The fact is consumers love the convenience of face authentication. Our research shows that 70% of consumers around the world either already use Face ID or similar to access their mobile banking apps or would do so if it was supported. Device-based face authentication does not provide sufficient security for most FIs, but the point is clear: consumers are familiar and comfortable with face authentication. iProov’s cloud-based technology does offer the security required by the financial services sector, along with usability, convenience, privacy, inclusivity, and scalability.

What’s next for digital identity in financial services and how are iProov’s products and services fitted to support these changes/evolution?

We’ll see a push on several fronts. First, an even greater awareness of the threats to digital identity. We’re in an arms race with deepfakes and other technology - it’s getting cheaper and easier to stage scalable attacks and we have to stay ahead. Second, a commitment to eradicating money laundering and identity theft. The idea that a certain amount of fraud is inevitable is outdated. Third, a commitment to effortless, passive authentication for all. It’s not OK to expect a customer to have the latest smartphone - you need to deliver effortless authentication on all devices and platforms. Nor is it OK to ask the user to follow instructions - it has to be simple and accurate, so the customer is happy and completion rates are high.

iProov recently published Biometric Authentication for Dummies - you can download it here to learn about reasons for using biometrics, securing biometric systems, protecting user privacy with biometrics, and more.

About Andrew Bud

Andrew Bud CBE is the founder and CEO of iProov, provider of biometric face authentication services to the private and public sectors worldwide. iProov has pioneered the delivery of Genuine Presence Assurance, delivering strong verification that an online user is real. Before starting iProov in 2011, he founded mBlox Inc. and led the company to become the world’s largest provider of commercial text messaging. He was awarded a CBE in 2020 for services to exports in science and technology.


About iProov

iProov is the world leader in online facial biometric authentication, working with governments, banks, and other enterprises to securely verify customer identity. Used for effortless onboarding and authentication, customers include the US Department of Homeland Security, the UK Home Office, the UK National Health Service (NHS), the Australian Taxation Office, GovTech Singapore, Rabobank, ING, and others. iProov’s technologies include Liveness Assurance and Genuine Presence Assurance, which ensures that an online customer is the right person, a real person, and is authenticating right now. This protects against spoof attacks from photos, videos, masks, and digital injection attacks and the emerging threat of deepfakes. iProov was recognised as a Gartner Cool Vendor 2020 in Identity Access Management & Fraud Detection.

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Keywords: biometrics, identity verification, online authentication, money laundering, fraud prevention
Categories: Securing Transactions | Digital Identity, Security & Online Fraud
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Securing Transactions