Treasury Insights

Emerging trends

Biometrics: A fundamental shift in identification methods

Close up of human eye with scan lines over iris

Biometric authentication has existed in science fiction since the last century. In the 1968 movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, voice prints are required for boarding a Pan Am space plane. In 1982's Star Trek, Wrath of Kahn, iris scanning authenticates Captain James T. Kirk. Now biometric authentication is coming to the non-fiction world and a computer or mobile device near you.

Privacy and security priorities

The growing capability of thieves to steal and use PINs and passcodes is driving the trend toward authentication methods that are less easily compromised. Privacy and security are top priorities for entities ranging from retailers to major banks and investment firms. These businesses need to verify with whom they're dealing in order to protect both their customers and themselves.

Biometrics is a fundamental shift in the way we identify and authenticate customers. Biometric authentication relies on traits that are unique to an individual and more difficult to fake, such as fingerprints, voice analysis, iris patterns, and facial recognition.

Biometrics products and pilots

Many of the newer Apple® devices have Touch ID, a sensor that reads stored fingerprints, to unlock the user's iPhone or iPad, as well as to authorize purchases made on the device from the iTunes Store, App Store, and iBooks Store. AppLock is a mobile application that uses voice and vision authentication to lock Android devices and restrict the use of other apps on them.

Wells Fargo is testing several forms of biometric identification. Those found to be most effective and helpful will be made available to business customers for use in their own mobile apps. The tests include:

  • Voice and facial recognition as the means of identification and authentication
  • Eye vein verification, which applies pattern-recognition techniques to video images of the unique veins in a user's eyes
  • Eye scans to unlock office buildings and floors instead of a badge, conventional key, or keycard

Innovative app

Global Finance magazine named Wells Fargo to The Innovators 2015 — Transaction Services list of most innovative banks and technology providers in treasury and transaction processing for its CEO Mobile® Biometric Authentication App.

For more information, contact your Wells Fargo representative or fill out the Contact Us form on this site.

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