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February 18, 2015updated 19 Aug 2016 4:00pm

RBS Group backs banking biometrics

From tomorrow, RBS and NatWest will allow authentication through a fingerprint scanner.

By Alexander Sword

Starting tomorrow, RBS and NatWest customers will be able to log into mobile banking apps using their fingerprints.

The service, a UK banking first, operates on Apple’s new Touch ID fingerprint scanner, available on iPhone 5S, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, recognising the customer’s fingerprint and removing the need for passwords.

RBS Group claims nearly 50 percent of the 15 million customers of RBS and Natwest use online banking, with over 3 million using the mobile app every week and 1.8 million using it on iPhone.

Stuart Haire, Managing Director, 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."

Jason Goode, Managing Director EMEA, Ping Identity, commented: "CIOs and IT managers should take note that while security is a top priority for online banking customers, so too is convenience. It should therefore come as no surprise that the banking industry is starting to embrace the next generation of application technology.

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"By deploying systems that centre on a customer’s identity and recognise returning customers to give them quick and easy access, banks can avoid any exodus and allow both their businesses and their customers to truly realise the benefits of secure online, mobile access to their finances."

However, Thomas Bostrøm Jørgensen, CEO at Encap Security, encouraged users and banks alike to remain wary of the promises of biometric security:

"Sure it’s trickier to subvert a fingerprint than a password, but it’s not impossible – Touch-ID was ‘hacked’ less than a month after introduction. One hacker has claimed to be able to recreate fingerprints from high-resolution photos. And while you can issue a new PIN or password you can’t issue a new fingerprint – not without it being very messy. A single factor will always be vulnerable to attack.

He added: "Apple has already suffered reputational damage from the iCloud breach that revealed a lot more than some celebrities wanted. Banks can’t afford to make the same mistake with biometrics."

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