Wells Fargo sees big opportunity in biometrics

Wells Fargo has formed a new Innovation Group, which will work in partnership with its major businesses to meet the continually changing needs of customer and ensure it is one step ahead of its competitors, according to a report by Forbes.

The Innovation Group will focus on five areas, including research and development, innovation strategies, payment strategies, design and delivery and analytics.

The division will be led by Steve Ellis, who believes that by integrating biometric technologies, the bank would be able to securely identify customers and provide access to their accounts.

Wells Fargo has been using biometrics for five years in pilots on the consumer and commercial banking sides, said Ellis.

He previously led wholesale services for Wells Fargo, and 15 years ago, oversaw the design of a single sign-on for multiple financial services.

Today Wells Fargo’s Commercial Electronic Office and CEO Mobile, which launched in 2007, provides online banking services through more than 90 applications to customers in more than 190 countries.

According to Ellis, banking innovation is cyclical, citing when Wells became the first Internet bank in 1995, and then moved on a few years later to provide mobile banking services.

“We are bringing a small team together,” said Ellis. “It is going to have some R&D components, we will be looking at new technologies, doing some proofs of concepts and some will become real products and services. The last big piece is design and delivery. We have been getting more agile in some parts of our company; we need to do that more consistently across broader swaths of the company.”

Wells Fargo said it will partner with internal developers and third-party startups on innovation, while taking a small stake in the companies it works with.

Previously reported, Wells Fargo will pilot a combination of voice and face recognition biometrics technologies to authenticate mobile iPhone app users of its Commercial Electronics Office (CEO) portal.

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