How biometrics help banks give consumers what they want

Last updated: 23 February 2017



What do consumers want when they bank or shop online?

Often, they want just two things: for their money to stay safe, and for their banking or shopping experience to be smooth. Obvious, right? And it sounds simple, too. But, alas, it’s not. It’s because usually, the more security that is introduced in the process, the more the end-user’s experience is disrupted, which ultimately damages the likelihood of them perusing the same process again.

With many banking products being commodities, banks increasingly want to differentiate themselves through the experience they offer their customers.

So what should banks do? Should they sacrifice security in the quest for the holy grail of a smooth customer experience? While such an idea might seem tempting, it is clearly dangerous and can be highly costly for banks.

What if, instead, banks could provide a way of authenticating their customers that ensures appropriate security while also keeping the user experience smooth?

Enter biometrics

Biometrics, it seems, does just that – at least according to a study by Visa conducted last year on over 14,000 respondents spread over seven European countries. According to the study, nearly three-quarters of Europeans (73%) see the use of biometrics in two-factor authentication as a secure way to verify the identity of an account holder. Moreover, more than two-thirds of them (68%) actually want to use biometrics to confirm their identity when paying.

Banks that are still hesitant may rest assured: according to the same study, customers do actually trust their banks – and in fact see them as the most trusted institution to provide biometric payment services and to hold their biometric data.

Banks that neglect to offer biometric authentication may see their customers leave in significant numbers.  The same study also reveals how 37% of European men are likely to switch away from banks that do not offer a biometric form of payment. Women appear to be partially more loyal, with the figure at 29%.

So biometrics is good news for banks. It’s even better news for merchants, who have the most to gain from a smooth and safe user experience. In fact, almost one in three consumers (31%) have abandoned their online shopping cart because of the payment security process. But, if the process involved biometrics, they might well have gone through with the purchase. Half of the Europeans consulted (51%) believe that biometric authentication could create a faster and easier payment experience than traditional methods.

But a speedy and smooth process is not everything. Biometrics also reassure users that their details will remain safe even if their device is lost or stolen.

Biometrics – but which kind?

Biometrics come in many forms. In fact, anything that is an intrinsic characteristic of a person can be used for biometric authentication. This includes fingerprint, iris pattern, voice, hand vein pattern, finger vein pattern, and even face – among others. Are they all equally appealing to consumers?

It appears not. Consumers like some biometrics more than others: those that are discreet, and those they are most familiar with. At the top of Europeans’ wish-list is fingerprint authentication for payment. This is seen as both easy to use and secure. In fact, most European consumers (81%) see fingerprint recognition as a secure biometric authentication method, and more than half (53%) prefer this to any other biometric authentication method for payment. 73% of Europeans are as comfortable with fingerprint authentication as they are with PINs.

But different consumers want different things in different situations. Fingerprint authentication is followed closely by iris scanning, with 76% of consumers finding it secure. 15% of European consumers feel comfortable with facial recognition; only 12% are comfortable with voice recognition.

With such an array of choices, and a diversity of consumer needs and preferences, should banks offer consumers the choice to make sure they get exactly what they want?

Make sure you share your opinion with us by posting in the comments section below, or by tweeting to @Gemalto or to @GemaltoMobile.

Want to find out more? Come see us at Mobile World Congress 2017 – we’re at stand 2J29 in Hall 2; our dedicated team will be on hand to answer your questions and show you how Gemalto is bringing trust to an increasingly connected world.

One thought on “How biometrics help banks give consumers what they want

  1. Biometric technology has changed the way banks and financial institutions are creating a safe zone for customers. Voice recognition, fingerprint ID, and iris recognition is nearly 100% unbreakable ways to provide reliable security system and solve safety issues for banks and financial services. This technology has improved and simplified security systems.

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