Interview: Standard Chartered Bank's Stuart Beaumont
05 September 2016 16:08 GMT

Underlining the importance of biometric security as a factor in big banks’ battle with disruptive upstarts, Standard Chartered bank has launched an ambitious roll-out of biometric authentication systems this year for clients across Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Reaching more than 5 million clients, an initial phase involving fingerprint security in August was the world’s largest ever deployment of the technology by an international bank, and a first in most markets.

The “touch login” service is already live in Singapore, the UAE and India, and will launch in China, Hong Kong, and Malaysia, Pakistan and the African markets of Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe by the end of 2016, depending upon regulatory approval being obtained where required.

The bank has also targeted voice biometric technology as a key tool for phone banking services, with plans to launch this modality for clients in India and the UAE by end of this year, before rolling it out in more markets next year, again subject to regulatory approvals.

Planet Biometrics caught up with Stuart Beaumont, Global Head of Voice & Virtual, Standard Chartered Bank, to discuss the bank’s plans. 

Why has Standard Chartered chosen fingerprint and voice as biometric technologies for its major deployments?

Fingerprint and voice biometric technologies give our clients more convenience and security when they want to access their bank balances, cards and investments, wherever they are and whenever they want. Instead of trying to remember their password or PIN, they can use their unique fingerprint or voice as an identifier.

We’re bringing the latest digital technologies to all our markets so that we can offer easy, convenient and secure banking to our clients. As part of the bank’s strategy, Standard Chartered has committed to invest USD1.5bn in technology over three years.

Do you expect biometrics to increasingly be used by banks for authentication? Do you expect passwords and knowledge-based solutions to decline?

Consumers nowadays have to remember multiple passwords and PINs for different uses and that is becoming a challenge. As more and more transactions move to digital, we see a growing demand for secure log in processes so clients can transact with confidence. So whether it is phone banking, the ATM or the mobile app, biometrics is a verification method that can be used across all channels and is unique to the individual.

Today, if a client were to call our contact centre, he or she could take up to 90 seconds to verify their identity by answering a series of knowledge-based questions. A voice print authentication just takes seconds. Hence, we anticipate high client adoption as they embrace the simplicity of this verification method. 

Have you found that voice biometric solutions are scaleable- both geographically and numerically?

Absolutely! With voice biometric technology, we are able to build once for many clients across different geographies, while adhering to local regulations and requirements. So we are excited about launching voice biometrics in India and the UAE by the end of this year, where we expect strong adoption as these are tech-savvy markets. With the experiences we gather there from testing and learning, we will be able to roll it out in more markets next year.