The emergence of mobile phones with fingerprint sensors and high-quality cameras has ushered in a new era of biometrics, enabling millions of people to make payments and access their bank accounts with the press of a button or scan of their iris.
But, Visa SVP of risk and authentication products, Mark Nelsen, notes users still have the option to bypass biometrics with a password or PIN, which results in a weak link the security chain.
“Today, the “password bypass” is a necessary design feature. A fingerprint sensor might not work when your finger is wet; facial recognition may fail in extreme lighting; and voice detection is difficult on a noisy subway platform. In those scenarios, there must be an alternative method for users to access their account,” writes Nelson.
To remove the weak password link, Visa is working with vendor BioConnect on an app that uses multiple biometric technologies so that when the default option fails, a user can just switch to another.
The app also works across multiple devices, says Nelson: “Getting a new gadget is fun. But manually reloading your payment information and login credentials so you can use your new gadget? Not fun. Our collaboration introduces an elegant alternative, one that, for example, enables your newly downloaded mobile banking application to identify and authenticate you by using one of your previously enrolled biometrics.
“Because the technology can work across multiple devices, you would simply sign in using the biometric to gain access to your data, without need for a keyboard, password, or setup—all possible in the first few moments of unwrapping your new device.”