American multinational bank, Wells Fargo, has announced plans to roll out a biometric-based commercial banking app that hopes to address one of the biggest challenges financial institutions face in the digital age–security. In an attempt to make customers feel more confident about conducting major transactions online, the bank is incorporating additional, tech-based security measures such as voice, face and iris recognition. Since March, pilot tests have been conducted where customers accessing the Wells Fargo mobile app have to look at their phone screens and recite a passphrase as well as a string of random numbers. The app will then relay the data to the bank’s servers and will compare it to logged profile information and speech patterns. The bank hopes to launch the software by 2016.
Wells Fargo joins numerous US banks who are seeking to use biometrics as a way to authenticate customers using mobile applications to access their accounts. While feedback from test subjects have been overwhelmingly positive, citing quicker transactions and higher confidence in security, there are still numerous technical issues that have to be addressed, including unreliability of facial or voice recognition technology outside of controlled settings. Further on, Wells Fargo is also looking into adding an intelligent personal assistant software to assist with banking tasks and help new customers acclimate.