Voice, Facial Recognition Coming To USAA Mobile Log-In

Biometric authentication apps for financial apps are expected to be all the rage by 2019, and USAA wants to be part of the trend.

The Texas-based financial services company said that it is going to soon be rolling out the option of using voice and facial recognition to its customers when they log into accounts through their mobile device. The mobile app already has a unique PIN, but this addition will add the multifactor authentication process by generating the option to use facial and voice recognition to log in as well.

“The use of multifactor authentication through biometrics is one of the most effective ways to increase security protection as traditional passwords become increasingly obsolete,” Gary McAlum, USAA’s chief security officer, told FinExtra.

Here’s how the authentication process will work for USAA customers: A user will log in to the home screen and will be asked to blink their eyes. To activate voice authentication, users must read a short phrase. USAA is currently launching the service as a pilot test in California, Texas and Florida; a nationwide rollout is expected to follow. The new option will be available via an app update on both iOS and Android devices. Fingerprint identification is what the company will test next, McAlum said.

A report released yesterday (Jan. 20) from Juniper Research, said that there will be nearly 770 million biometric authentication apps downloaded per year by 2019, which is quite the increase from the 6 million per year currently. Juniper credits the expected surge in these downloads to the current proliferation of Touch ID hardware in Apple and Samsung smartphones, as well as the linking of the hardware to tokenization of NFC payments in mobile commerce.

In comparison, in Europe the trend is already here. In a survey published by Visa Europe, FinExtra said that 75 percent of consumers in the age range of 16-24 said they are in favor of biometric security options like facial recognition, fingerprint and retina scanning over passwords.