Magazine article American Banker

Biometrics Find Support from an Unlikely Demographic: Seniors

Magazine article American Banker

Biometrics Find Support from an Unlikely Demographic: Seniors

Article excerpt

Byline: Bailey Reutzel

As it's rolled out biometric authentication for its mobile banking apps, USAA has learned some surprising things about who uses the feature.

More than 400,000 USAA customers, five of whom are over 90 years old, have opted in to use biometrics (face, voice or touch) to authenticate themselves to the company's mobile banking application.

Rick Swenson, USAA's fraud operational excellence and strategic initiatives executive, said he thought the demographic adopting biometrics would skew toward millennials, but the makeup of users has turned out to be different.

It's about half and half with the median being 35, Swenson said during a biometric roundtable hosted by the Center for the Study of Financial Innovation in London on May 11. And 15% of those in the older half are seniors over 65, he said.

Biometric authentication could be especially beneficial to older individuals, said Keith Gold, a communications consultant who formerly worked with IBM Banking and Financial Services Europe. As seniors' eyesight, hearing, motor skills and short-term memory start to wane, they might find using a password or PIN difficult on the small screen of a mobile device, he said.

Biometric authentication can be particularly advantageous for military service members, a segment that USAA focuses on. Military personnel coming back from service are sometimes injured and unable to log in in a traditional fashion, Swenson said. USAA Federal Savings Bank has 10.7 million members, mostly military members and their families.

USAA rolled out face and voice biometrics to its entire membership base in February this year. In the first 30 days after rollout, USAA had more than 200,000 customers enroll for the service and that was without advertising, said Swenson. With 4.1 million active mobile users, "in just six months we captured 10% of" mobile users, he said. …

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