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The One Question Banks Must Ask Before Incorporating Biometric Technology

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Integrating biometric technology into authentication systems requires careful consideration of many important issues and dynamics, such as:

  • Information privacy
  • Lifecycle management
  • Customer experience and convenience
  • Consumer security
  • System reliability and accuracy

Despite these important factors that must be evaluated thoroughly before deciding to implement biometric authentication solutions, one question, in particular, stands out as being the most critical.

What is the Optimal Balance of Security and Convenience, and Can We Achieve It?

Each consideration is fundamental in its own right and all of them must be given weight if banks hope to successfully deploy biometric authentication across their enterprises.

If banks hope to successfully implement biometric authentication across their enterprises they must think critically and carefully evaluate the many factors that go into the implementation.

For instance, when users’ financial assets are involved, security is a sensitive component for any authentication solution that seeks to safeguard that property. Biometric technology is widely considered to be more secure than traditional passwords. However, the ability to access information or funds with a user’s fingerprint, voice, or facial features inherently requires that the user’s data be stored somewhere so that the software is able to recognize it and match it with the input. Unlike passwords, biometric data cannot be changed in the event of a breach; if fingerprint data is obtained by an unauthorized party, all accounts associated with that fingerprint are compromised, and perhaps permanently so. Therefore, banks must check internally, and with potential system providers, as to the means of storage for the data and the scope of accessibility by third-parties.

On the other hand, eliminating the need for users to memorize and recall passwords, and the convenience that it provides to consumers is seen as a primary advantage of biometric authentication solutions. Because of this, providing a reliable and seamless experience to users is crucial. If the security measures of a biometric system prove inconvenient or burdensome, users may push back or take their business elsewhere. Enhancing consumer experience is important to the question of how a bank’s chosen biometric solution will be deployed across its various endpoints.

Data security and user-convenience are both clearly indispensable attributes and it follows that neither can be sacrificed in favor of the other when integrating biometric technology into a bank’s authentication protocol. Moreover, these are just two vital questions that banks must ask (both before integration and even after installation) among others, including:

  • Is the system the right one for my intended purpose?
  • Is it being used in the right way, and only for the intended purpose?
  • Is it reliable, efficient, and accurate?
  • Is it cost effective?
  • Does it safeguard privacy?
  • What are the system vulnerabilities?

Despite the independent importance of each factor, the more pressing considerations for financial institutions focus on how to strike the perfect balance between them. When determining the possibility of achieving this balance between security and convenience, which is necessary for successful deployment of biometric authentication, the answer depends primarily on the availability of the right biometric solution.

Improving Your Chances of Successfully Deploying Biometric Authentication

Industry experts have outlined a number of best practices for optimizing the deployment of biometric authentication protocol so that banks can actively try to avoid the many potential pitfalls.

For example, many suggest an approach that frames biometrics as an additional layer of security, rather than as a replacement for existing security measures. Incorporating biometric solutions as one component of a multi-factor authentication scheme ensures that prospective hackers would need to acquire at least two distinct pieces of information in order to gain access to user data. This would ideally frustrate those that attempt to steal data and act as a deterrent for others. This approach may also serve to limit the number of false-positives that occur during the authentication process.

Another means of increasing the likelihood of successful deployment is conducting internal testing of a solution prior to widespread integration. This typically involves selecting a random sample population from employees within a given enterprise and having them try the chosen biometric solution for a few weeks. Doing this will allow banks to observe changes in authentication speed, as well as any resulting difficulties in business processes encountered by the sample group. This will ultimately reveal areas of the biometric solution’s implementation that require improvement before full deployment. This practice will also enable a better-informed assessment of the solution’s effectiveness and help to determine whether a different choice of system is necessary.

To conclude, financial institutions will have the greatest chance of success with biometric authentication if they understand the gravity of selecting the right solution for their enterprise, and the immense responsibility that accompanies the control over that choice. To that end, an additional suggested best practice is to avoid hasty implementation. Successful integration demands an optimal balance between a host of crucial factors which can only be achieved by utilizing a biometric solution that has the means to allow that balance.  It is imperative that banks fight the urge to rush onto the new cybersecurity frontier and carefully consider all available options so that they are able to enhance the experience and safeguard user data.


This article was published by ITBiometrics, Inc. a leading biometric hardware and software technology company that provides user-authentication services to consumers, businesses, and governments. The ITBiometrics Platform enables developers to build high-security software solutions using the trusted ITBiometrics fingerprint reader and hardware SDK. To learn more, visit www.ITBiometrics.com.  


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