With apologies to Marc Andreesson who famously said several years ago that software is eating the world, I think that same sentiment is going to be applied to biometrics and finance. And that is a good thing.
In a world full of cyber-hacks and data breaches most people would agree that the current system of text passwords is broken. In a recent survey it was revealed that 81% of people use the same password for multiple accounts with that number being even higher, at 92%, for millennials. Talk about a broken system. While the more sophisticated users will rely on a password manager like 1Password or Lastpass clearly the general population wants things to be simple even at the expense of security.
Enter biometrics. Biometrics is simply defined as the biological identification of a person. It has been in use for centuries and has been commonplace ever since the introduction of the photo-id driver’s license a few decades ago. But it has only been in recent years that its use has exploded.
The introduction of Touch ID on the Apple iPhone in 2013 was a seminal moment in the history of biometrics. People could suddenly use their thumb or finger print as an identity verification tool and forgo using a password. Today, on my phone I can login to my bank account, buy music or apps, buy a plane ticket, even check my Lending Club account all with the press of my thumb. No passwords needed. This saves the hassle of not only having to remember passwords but also having to type on these small devices.
Thumb prints were just one step. Voice interaction is now becoming widespread with millions of people asking questions of Alexa, Siri or Google every day. Alexa now has dozens of banking “skills” where you can check your account balance, make a payment or track your spending at several major banks such as CapitalOne, American Express or US Bank. Also, TD Ameritrade has their VoicePrint technology where you can phone in to customer service and verify your identity with just your voice.