The Royal Bank of Scotland has launched a fingerprint login service for users of the RBS and NatWest mobile app.
RBS said its ‘Touch ID’ would be available for nearly one million Apple iPhone users that have RBS or NatWest mobile banking apps. The move is part of the bank’s reaction to a decline in customers using its branches and growth in those banking online and via mobile phone apps.
According to RBS, over three million customers use the mobile app every week with 1.8m active iPhone users using the app on average 40 times per month.
Stuart Haire, managing director of RBS and NatWest Direct Bank said: “There has been a revolution in banking, as more and more of our customers are using digital technology to bank with us. Adding Touch ID to our mobile banking app makes it even easier and more convenient for customers to manage their finances on the move and directly responds to their requests.
Our aim is to be the no.1 bank for customer trust, service and advocacy so we want to continue adapting our service based on the valuable feedback we receive from our customers every day.”
Phil Underwood, Global head of pre sales at SecurEnvoy, said: “Today’s announcement from RBS and NatWest on their adoption of fingerprint technology is a landmark moment for two factor authentication (2FA) entering the mainstream.
“There is always a balancing act when it comes to authentication. Make it too easy for the user and the authentication may be compromised or circumvented; too hard and adoption rates for the new authentication technology will drop. This shows that there is now a middle ground that is secure enough for banks to remain regulatory compliant, but easy enough to lead to widespread adoption.”
Geoff Webb, senior director, solution strategy at NetIQ, said: “This move by RBS is being driven by the confluence of two very powerful trends. Firstly the widespread move to online banking, with customers expecting to be able to do more on the go from their mobile device, without the inconvenience of having to go to a physical bank or even use a traditional desktop or laptop computer.
“The second trend is the failure of traditional methods of authentication – proving we are who we claim to be – and the rising cost of fraud and breaches that accompany that failure.”
However Alissa Lang, sales director at Winfrasoft, issued caution on the announcement, especially after the technology was hacked using a fake fingerprint within days, and because it isn’t commercially viable to place high-quality biometrics technology on a mass-market consumer device costing a few hundred pounds.
She said: “We do need to move away from passwords and what they are replaced with must strike a balance between delivering security and usability if they are going to become ubiquitous. For me, whilst this latest news from RBS and Nat West is a great headline grabber, it is ultimately the latest gimmick on the biometrics bandwagon.”
In September 2014, Barclays announced the launch biometric scanner to corporate banking clients, which identifies a user by the blood and veins in their finger.