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Biometric Log-In Technology May Soon Protect Your Financial Accounts

Facial and voice recognition are making passwords passe.


Cyber attacks are a fact of financial life. So banks and other providers are eyeing super-secure biometric recognition technology to beef up account safety. Earlier this year, USAA became the first U.S. financial institution to introduce biometric log-in technology. Members who use USAA’s mobile app on their smartphones can enroll to use facial and voice recognition to access their accounts. USAA will launch fingerprint recognition this year.

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Biometric authentication is expected to go mainstream within the next five years. The technology doesn’t actually capture an image of your face or fingerprint, or literally record your voice. Rather, it measures hundreds of distinct characteristics and runs those values through a proprietary algorithm to create a template. Then, when you log on to a device, or use it to log in to an account, your current biometric data will be compared with your template to authenticate you. “We can’t rely any longer on traditional modes of security,” says Rick Swenson, an assistant vice-president at USAA. Are passwords obsolete? No, but they’ll soon be the weakest of multiple levels of authentication that may be used, depending on the riskiness of the transaction and the value of the information.