B2B Payments

Bank Of America Deploys Biometrics For Enterprise Mobile Banking

Enterprise processes are starting to look a lot more like the consumer world. From procurement’s path to mimic an Amazon experience, to the Bring Your Own Device movement, corporates have embraced the movement toward user-friendly processes for the sake of convenience and efficiency.

This consumerization of the enterprise has emerged as a heavyweight behind corporates’ digital transformations – but businesses aren’t consumers, and emerging technologies must address unique needs while still providing a positive user experience.

Take mobile banking, for instance.

The enterprise is following in the consumer’s path to take money management to the smartphone. According to Tom Durkin, Bank of America‘s head of digital channels, financial institutions have a new opportunity to embrace this development.

“What you’re seeing is consumerization flowing through the commercial side,” he told PYMNTS in a recent interview. “Consumer expectations are coming to individuals within the treasury department, and they’re looking toward banking partners to provide ease of use and efficiency on the mobile device for treasury activity.”

A 2017 survey from Bank of America found a 14 percent increase in the number of consumers using mobile banking apps compared to 2015. It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that separate analysis from Kaspersky Lab and B2B International found that in 2016, nearly a third of businesses around the globe used a mobile device to access a corporate bank account or facilitate a corporate transaction – a trend that researchers said is “certain” to continue.

According to Durkin, professionals’ demand for a quick-click to account and transaction information is accelerating, and the mobile device is a convenient channel to deliver that speed. On top of speed, treasurers are seeking more insight from their banks regarding performance and benchmarking. As Durkin noted, that presents another opportunity for mobile banking platforms in the form of alerts and notifications.

“The opportunity is evolving from something that is transactional-oriented as it is today, to something that is more personal and relevant with individual communications that are necessary,” he said.

According to Kaspersky’s report, however, mobile banking’s growing traction within the enterprise may present an increased security risk. This presents another opportunity for financial institutions to take advantage of the mobile platform when developing security features.

Today (July 2), Bank of America announced its latest initiative in corporate mobile banking. The FI revealed enhancements to its CashPro Mobile platform, a corporate mobile banking portal that includes biometrics and embedded token technology.

In an official statement announcing the upgrades, Durkin said the new features were included in the spirit of easier, anytime access to cash and treasury information. But, he told PYMNTS, they’re also an initiative to address some of the cumbersome security processes that treasurers struggle with today.

One, of course, is the physical token.

“Corporate treasurers generally have to carry a bag of these [physical] tokens wherever they go,” Durkin said. “Now they have the capability of carrying the token on the mobile phone with the same level of security.”

Biometric technology – including the facial recognition capabilities within Bank of America’s latest enhancements – also addresses the friction linked to physical tokens. But adoption is not guaranteed – at least, not right away, as treasurers take their time getting acclimated to new technologies. Durkin noted that Bank of America anticipates this, and has developed these platform upgrades to support those professionals who want to continue using physical tokens until they are comfortable with biometrics.

Another factor that could slow adoption of biometrics in mobile corporate banking is the fact that companies have to build security policies that support and complement the technology – particularly, said Durkin, as it relates to BYOD, access control and tiered access decisions: Who has access to the firm’s mobile banking platforms, and how deep does that access go?

“A lot of companies support BYOD to work, and the mix of work-related activity on the same mobile device,” he said, adding that any concerns about biometric adoption are “more around policy and how you adjust where the company is.”

The enterprise must balance the embracing of tools that promote ease of use with this ever-rising need for security. But Durkin noted that as Bank of America continues its investment in biometrics, the FI sees a solid place for security technology in corporate mobile banking.

As treasurers continue to rely on mobile devices for banking and transacting, Durkin said that the bank will focus on promoting digitization for corporate customers and embedding new functionalities into the mobile screen. Again, the inspiration comes from the world of consumers: The ability to sign a receipt on a mobile screen at checkout via Square, for instance, is a capability that has potential in the corporate world, too.

Click-to-accept capabilities in the mobile device, as well as document scanning and uploading, are additional features that BoA will explore for corporate clients in the coming months.

“Continuing investment is critical. It’s all about supporting overall ease of doing business,” Durkin said. “The way corporates want to interact with their banks will continue to evolve – and the emphasis on CashPro as a mobile channel speaks to how customers want to interact with bank ecosystems.”

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