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USAA sees strong customer support for biometrics


Upon rolling out its biometric authentication for its mobile banking apps, USAA discovered that more than 400,000 USAA customers have opted in to use the new feature, according to a report by American Banker.

Rick Swenson, USAA’s fraud operational excellence and strategic initiatives executive, recently shared the results at a biometric roundtable hosted by the Center for the Study of Financial Innovation in London.

Swenson said he assumed that millennials would be the largest adopting demographic group of the biometrics feature, however, it turned out that they only made up 50% of the total 400,000 users with the median age being 35.

Meanwhile, Keith Gold, a communications consultant who formerly worked with IBM Banking and Financial Services Europe, said that biometric authentication could be particularly beneficial to senior citizens.

As seniors’ eyesight, hearing, motor skills and short-term memory began diminish, using a password or PIN could become extremely difficult on the small screen of a mobile device, Gold said.

USAA introduced in February face and voice biometrics as an optional authentication method for members in its mobile apps, and after the first 30 days it saw more than 200,000 customers enroll for the service, said Swenson. The financial institution expanded to fingerprint authentication on April 27.

Based on customer feedback, fingerprint scanning and facial recognition are the most preferred methods as voice relies on a quiet background environment, he said.

Since introducing new features in its mobile app such as the biometric authentication methods, USAA said it is seeing a rising decrease in the number of calls to the call center, which largely relate to inquiries about authentication, Swenson said.

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