Westpac NZ tests fingerprint scanning for mobile app

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Westpac NZ tests fingerprint scanning for mobile app

Money at your fingertips.

Westpac New Zealand has completed proof of concept testing to allow fingerprint scanning as a log in for access to mobile banking.

The test was completed on the new Samsung Galaxy S5 which uses the FIDO alliance authentication system and will provide Westpac NZ customers with an alternative authentication step for logging into Westpac New Zealand’s Mobile Banking.

The proof of concept is currently being tested to ensure it meets the bank’s security standards.

Should it be satisfied with these security concerns, the bank plans to offer the feature as part of a new digital platform to be rolled out later this year. Customers will be asked to download the bank’s standard mobile banking app and, if their device is compatible, the fingerprint scanning option will be available as an opt-in feature.  

Westpac New Zealand believe the proof of concept is a world first. 

“We believe it will be very popular with our customers that have the new Samsung S5 because when you use the feature it certainly makes accessibility fast and easy," said Simon Pomeroy, chief digital officer for Westpac New Zealand.  

"We'd love to provide this feature for Apple customers. When Apple makes their fingerprint scanner on their 5S iPhones available to 3rd parties we'll look to support it,” he said. 

Steven Wilson, principal analyst at Constellation Research recommended customers approach the innovation with some caution.

“Biometrics has been around for some twenty years but banks have been slow to adopt the technology and with good reason," he said. "A fingerprint scan is certainly more secure than an insecurely stored PIN or password, but if your password is stolen you simply change it. There is no DR approach for a stolen fingerprint.”

Biometric technology uses human characteristics as the identifiers for access. While those identifiers could be considered distinctive and measurable, they can vary from day-to-day and therefore can result in false positive or negative reads.

"You may tap the screen at a different angle, the screen or your finger may be dirty, a number of different factors may result in a less than reliable result,” Wilson said.

The key advantage to fingerprint scanning is convenience and ease of use, he said.

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