Security & Fraud

HSBC Makes A ‘Biometric Banking’ Push


HSBC is no stranger to dealing with cyberattacks and outages, which may be a reason why the U.K. bank announced plans to roll out biometric security technology in a move to bring biometric banking to the mainstream.

In a statement released Friday (Feb. 19), the bank noted that nearly 37 percent of people feel that the use of traditional passwords is outdated as a security measure. HSBC, along with U.K. bank First Direct, plan to deploy the use of voice biometric security technology, as well as touch ID, for mobile banking customers across the U.K.

Francesca McDonagh, HSBC U.K.’s head of retail banking and wealth management, explained: “This is the largest planned rollout of voice biometric security technology in the U.K. and demonstrates our continued investment in digital innovation and focus on making our services even more convenient for our customers. The launch of voice and touch ID makes it even quicker and easier for customers to access their bank account, using the most secure form of password technology: the body.”

With the new security processes in place, customers will have access to advanced technologies when accessing their account via mobile or over the phone. An accountholder’s identity will be verified by using unique body characteristics, specifically voice and fingerprint.

“The research shows Brits are increasingly demanding a simple alternative to traditional passwords. While technology has evolved at pace, the security measures we use in everyday life have not kept up with the rate of change,” Tracy Garrad, First Direct CEO, said. “Our voices and fingerprints are unique, with physical and behavioral characteristics almost impossible to mimic. While this is the largest rollout of voice ID in the U.K. banking, other industries will soon follow our lead.”

The update to biometric security protections is coming at a time when HSBC has made headlines for interrupted access to its mobile and online banking services, due to both technical glitches and a cyberattack.

In January, the bank announced it was working with law enforcement to identify the hacker(s) who caused its personal banking sites in the U.K. to crash; that takedown was the second time the bank had experienced outages that month.

At the time, Europe’s second-largest lender claimed that it had successfully thwarted an initial distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack but was eventually overcome by additional threats, which delayed its ability to fully restore its services.



The September 2020 Leveraging The Digital Banking Shift Study, PYMNTS examines consumers’ growing use of online and mobile tools to open and manage accounts as well as the factors that are paramount in building and maintaining trust in the current economic environment. The report is based on a survey of nearly 2,200 account-holding U.S. consumers.