NatWest to replace passwords with behavioural biometrics tech

NatWest will be the first bank to use the tech specifically for the purpose of SCA compliance

Natwest bank

NatWest has announced that it's developing behavioural biometrics technology which could replace banking passwords from next year.

The tech aims to prevent payment fraud by using analysing the unique ways a customer interacts with their device when making an online purchase. It then uses this information to confirm the identity of the payee, as well as ensure that the cardholder is authorising the payment.

The behavioural biometrics technology is to be rolled out from next year, when Strong Customer Authentication (SCA), a part of the European regulation for electronic payment services PSD2, will be enforced by regulators.

NatWest said it will be the first bank to use the tech specifically for the purpose of SCA compliance, and expressed hopes that it would ultimately replace passwords and strengthen the security of payments.

NatWest director of Strategy and Innovation Georgina Bulkeley said: “We continue to explore biometrics and how they can be used to make payments easier and simpler for our customers. The success of a pilot of this new technology demonstrates our ongoing commitment to developing innovative ways of enhancing the customer experience while prioritising security.”

The technology was customised in partnership with Visa, which plans to offer commercially available behavioural biometric technology via its end-to-end authentication solution VCAS.

Visa managing director for UK & Ireland, Jeni Mundy, said that the company “is committed to working with its partners to develop innovative technologies that remove friction for cardholders, increase security and satisfy regulatory requirements”. 

“Behavioural biometrics has already been deployed successfully for the purpose of fraud prevention, and now, following work between regulators and industry partners including Visa, has been approved as a second layer of security to be used alongside one-time passcodes in the context of Strong Customer Authentication,” she added.

In 2019, NatWest was one of the first banks to launch a biometric-enabled debit card trial, in which customers were able use their fingerprint when paying for goods valued at more than £30. However, the bank was forced to withdraw the biometric support for its app on Samsung Galaxy S10s after reports of a glitch in its fingerprint sensor. 

It is currently testing biometric fingerprint technology with debit and credit cards which will allow payments of up to £100 to be verified using a fingerprint instead of PIN.

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