Passwords are becoming passe on Wall Street, as more and more firms are turning to new biometrics-based account identification tools to keep client data safe, secure and breach proof from cyber-thieves.
Some pretty big financial industry names are already on board.
"It's time to move away from passwords so that that the body becomes your password," said Tim Sloan, CEO at Wells Fargo, at the FinTech Ideas Festival in San Francisco in January. Wells Fargo is in the midst of a technology transformation that relies on biometrics authentication to enable customers to sign onto accounts.
Wells Fargo isn't alone. USAA has seen its customer usage of biometrics double from two years ago, with two million out of five million users signing onto accounts via facial recognition, fingerprints or voice recognition technologies. The use of biometrics is so pervasive at USAA that new clients are automatically lock new clients into biometrics-based account log in when they open an account.
At Edward Jones, clients can now sign onto their accounts via thumbprint on their smartphones. For the investment giant's 15,000 financial advisors, a touch-based account identification system is on tap next.
"Biometrics isn't science anymore," says Tony Chew, cybersecurity director at Citibank, who echoes the sentiments of many financial industry executives. "This is a business decision."
But more than just business, biometrics is on the fast track due to standard corporate operational objectives.
"It's all about security plus convenience," says Jessica Gagner, a communications and events strategy director at BioConnect, a technology company that specializes in biometric software. "What a lot of financial institutions are finding is that biometrics provides both a better user experience for their client base reducing the cost of operational friction and because passwords and PINs aren't unique to an individual, there are big gaps in security."