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Brief Published: 5 Sep 2014

Biometric Banking

Barclays finger scanner

UK bank Barclays today announced plans to authenticate customers' access to its online banking services with biometric finger scanners, rather than passwords or pin codes.

The scanners identify the unique patterns of veins under the skin using an infrared scanner – a more secure method than scanning fingerprints, which can be open to forgery. They are being introduced to deter identity fraud, which accounted for $18bn of theft in the US alone in 2013, according to US research company Javelin Strategy & Research.

Consumers are becoming more and more concerned about their data and who has access to it, driving up the market for security solutions. The market for products that manage mobile security is expected to be worth $1bn by 2015, according to ABI Research, a market intelligence firm based in New York.

Mike Jackson, a computer security expert at Birmingham City University, welcomed the move by Barclays, but called for cloud services – which are increasingly used to store vast amounts of personal data – to adopt a similar approach.

The Barclays scanners will initially be available only to business clients. However, other biometric security measures, including retina- and fingerprint-scanning, are being integrated into a range of mobile devices.

For more on mobile security and the future of mobile banking for digital natives, see Bite-Size Banking and our Security & Privacy report from this year's Mobile World Congress.