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September 19, 2016updated 21 Sep 2016 2:47pm

Banks win UK consumer trust as biometric security gains a competitive edge

Growing number of customers would switch banks to one that offered biometric security.

By James Nunns

The British public is much more trusting of banks than government agencies when it comes to the protection of biometric data.

With the use of biometrics becoming more popular as a means to replace traditional passwords, more questions are being asked about the security of the data being held.

According to research by Visa, consumers are nearly twice as likely to trust banks to store and keep biometric information safe (60%), than they are government agencies (33%).

When it comes to who they would trust to offer biometric authentication as a service the banks again came out on top with 85%, followed by payment networks 81%, online brands 70%, and smartphone companies 64%.

The level of trust has grown by 20% in the past two years since the Visa Biometric Payments study was first conducted in 2014.

Not only is there a lot more trust, there is also a greater demand from customers to use biometrics as a method of payment authentication. It was found that 64% want to use biometrics for this, partly due to familiarity increasing comfort levels for consumers.

The higher-level of comfort sees 80% of those surveyed say that they are now most comfortable with fingerprint recognition, while 88% also view it as the most secure of payment. Iris-scanning was viewed as secure by 83% and facial recognition by 65%.

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Now that consumers are a lot more trusting of these security methods it is necessary for banks to offer them more widely. Banks such as Barclays already use mobile fingerprint verification to access its banking app, while HSBC has introduced facial recognition technology to help people open bank accounts much more quickly.

The ability to offer this capability is increasingly being seen as a key factor in what bank service they use. It was found that 25% of 18-24 year old are likely to switch banks that didn’t offer this service, compared to 17% for other generations.

Kevin Jenkins, UK & Ireland Managing Director, Visa, said: “Banks have a tremendous opportunity in this payment revolution. From trialling voice recognition to behavioural biometrics for authentication, we’re already seeing banks – both high street and challenger banks, alike – making positive steps to adopt this technology in a variety of use cases.

“This consumer confidence in both authentication as well as the storage of their biometric data gives banks the perfect win-win scenario, enabling them to provide a service that the public wants which will also benefit the banks, themselves.”

The research was commissioned by Visa with Populus and was conducted across seven European countries; the UK, Sweden, Spain, France, Germany, Italy and Poland. The sample size was 14,236 with around 2,000 people per country.

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