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Banks Turn to Biometrics

Online banking portals for Barclays and Wells Fargo are now scanning customers’ eyes, fingers in place of passwords.

As data breaches, ransomware, and other cybercrimes heighten concerns about the security of doing business on the Internet, some banks are rolling out biometric methods of authentication, methods that rely on some unique physical characteristic of the customer, like a fingerprint.

Wells Fargo customers can now use a scan of the veins in their eye to log onto the mobile version of the bank’s Commercial Electronic Office portal, CEO Mobile. And Barclays is about to launch a device that uses finger vein technology to authenticate customers signing into its treasury portal on a laptop or desktop.

Barclays’ Finger Vein Scanner

Barclays Biometric ScannerShah said Barclays started its search for a biometric authentication method by considering its corporate customers. While some might log into the treasury portal just once a day, some users log in and approve 20 to 100 transactions every day, he said. “They don’t want to be putting their face in front of a scanner every time they’re doing that.” Shah noted that it takes only one or two seconds to use the finger vein scanner to log in or approve a payment.

London-based Barclays partnered with Japan’s Hitachi, which owns the technology, to develop the scanner, which relies on each person’s unique pattern of finger veins. Shah noted that finger vein technology is widely used in Japan and surrounding countries.