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HSBC Wants Its Customers to Embrace ‘Biometric Banking’

February 19, 2016, 1:47 PM UTC
Biometrics: Body Identity. On November 29Th, 2005. In Paris, France
Francis DEMANGE Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

HSBC put it bluntly: It’s bringing customers “one step closer to using their bodies as their passwords.”

On Friday, the bank and its online division One Direct unveiled voice and touch identification that could replace traditional passwords for some 15 million customers in the U.K. by this summer.

The company’s voice biometrics technology will ask users to enroll their “voice print,” which records identifiers such as voice speed, cadence, and pronunciation as well as physical features like larynx shape, vocal tract, and nasal passages. The touch ID relies on some of the same technology Apple uses in its iPhones. Customers will access their accounts by scanning a fingerprint on Apple’s (AAPL) home button, the same way they would unlock their phone.

The new processes come as more customers rely on mobile banking, which has prompted concerns about security.

HSBC (HSBC) was the victim of a cyber attack last month that shut down its personal banking website and its mobile app. That occurred just a few weeks after a systems failure cut thousands of customers off from the bank’s digital services.

In announcing the new biometric technology, HSBC cited research from YouGov that says 37% of customers believe traditional passwords have become outdated security measures.


While voice recognition and touch identification are new to HSBC, other banks have already deployed these security measures. Barclays introduced voice recognition identification to customers of its private banking division back in 2013. And USAA, which serves U.S. military members and their families, started offering voice and facial recognition logins last year.