How voice and facial recognition can secure your online identity

15 Feb, 2017

The need to secure online customer identity is vital in the digital age. Banks and fintech firms are seeking new ways to eliminate the need for frustrating usernames and passwords to improve the banking experience – while still protecting online identity. Personal identification networks (PIN) and password-based systems are under relentless security attacks by hackers, compromising users’ online identity.

Online identity theft
In the anonymous world of the internet, individuals are uniquely identified by account numbers and passwords which form the basis of online authentication. Online identity theft happens when a victim’s online identity is stolen by cyber criminals and used for unauthorised purposes that could cause financial losses.

Email phishing attacks are an increasingly popular and a sophisticated method cyber criminals employ to find information they require to commit online identity theft. In SA, identity theft is high, but local consumers aren’t doing enough to secure their online identities. A MasterCard survey called RIP Passwords, reveals 54% of South Africans believe there are better ways to protect their personal information than using passwords.

Biometrics is the future
The MasterCard survey also shows 65% of South Africans would favour biometrics over passwords. Furthermore, seven out of ten say biometrics, such as fingerprint or voice recognition technology, would be an easier way to access their accounts. Biometrics have the potential to provide a secure and seamless experience.

Voice and facial features are difficult to fake or recreate. It’s easier for customers to use than information they have to remember – you have a voice and face already.

Secure and seamless experiences
Banks like Investec Private Bank and FNB have embraced biometrics. They’re demonstrating a true commitment to both customer security and the consumer experience.

For example, a voice biometric system might capture the unique characteristics of a client’s voice and create an individual voiceprint. When a client contacts the organisation, the voice biometric technology will authenticate the client within seconds and grant access to the account. However, if the voice print doesn’t match – in cases where there are disturbances from noise – the telephone banker will still have the option of using traditional knowledge-based verification techniques to verify the identity of the caller.

Digital automation service providers have also picked up on the trend and are starting to offer biometric technology for their clients. ViRDi Access Control, offered by Nashua, is a user-friendly fingerprint and facial recognition system which offers businesses a higher level of convenient security – it even processes dry and wet fingerprints.

Leveraging the tech in Africa
Consider how difficult it is to authenticate customer identity in parts of Africa where national ID systems are non-existent or poorly functional. It becomes a tricky task to prevent online identity fraud. However, biometrics could also play a bigger role in securing customers’ online identities in these tough markets.

The fintech firm MyBucks, which provides financial products and services through technology in Africa, is in the process of developing facial recognition algorithms to incorporate into the fraud prevention system. This will be added to MyBucks mobile applications. This is about leveraging technology to provide faster and more secure financial services to clients. PINs and passwords have been great, but it’s time to advance beyond them with secure technology to validate online identity and ensure safer banking transactions.

So the race is on. Banks and fintech firms are seeking better biometrics to safeguard online identity and provide a distinct banking experience. It’s too soon to get excited, but it’s going to be an interesting time to bank in the digital world. With voice and facial recognition, the aim in SA is to eliminate online fraud and safeguard customer online identity and personal data.