Consumers Are Ready for Biometrics

Consumers Are Ready for Biometrics

August 4, 2021

By: Kate Drew

Consumers are embracing biometrics in banking. According to a 2021 FICO survey, 61% of US respondents are generally happy to provide their bank with a biometric — like a facial scan, fingerprint, or voiceprint — to secure their accounts. Biometric authentication, which enables customers to securely access their accounts without having to remember a password, moved squarely into the mainstream when smartphone companies like Apple introduced fingerprint scanning, and then, facial recognition. By now, consumers have largely become accustomed to accessing their devices this way, likely paving the way for their comfort with the technology overall. That’s led to opportunities for banks to piggyback off this adoption.

In fact, we’re already seeing many use cases for biometrics in banking. When consumers use Apple Pay, for instance, they are likely authenticating using biometric technology. And a slew of banking apps have added support for facial recognition since device makers began rolling out the option. So, yes, this isn’t quite so cutting-edge anymore. But what is the next stage? Given the general comfort level, banks have an opportunity here to leverage these tools in ways outside of their customers’ handheld devices. In Europe and Asia, for example, banks have been using vein scanning technology in branches for some time, a trend that’s yet to make its way to the US. The use of biometrics in the branch makes a whole lot of sense as a way to speed up authentication of customers and streamline the process.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that customers generally want to understand how and why a bank is using biometric technology. Per the survey, 36% of respondents said they are happy to share their biometric information with their bank as long as they understand why. That means, as with most things, doing this successfully will require thoughtful communication. If a customer is asked for a facial scan at a branch, for example, it should be made clear that the information will be used to provide easier access to their account and deliver expedited service. Biometrics is an area that’s moving quite quickly, and luckily, consumer adoption is largely being driven by companies that shape habits outside of banking. For financial institutions, this means they can ride an already strong wave. As long as they explain why.

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