Deutsche Bank tests password-free mobile security

Laura Noonan and Daniel Thomas
Deutsche Bank wants to free passwords
Deutsche Bank wants to free passwords

Deutsche Bank is experimenting with new antifraud technology that uses the way you handle and hold your phone to work out if you are really you.

The bank hopes the system will free customers from passwords and allow it to lift limits on mobile transactions.

The technology analyses about 50 different factors to build a picture of a user from pressure applied to the pin-pad to how the phone is held, location, facial recognition and thumbprint.

Some of these are already in use. MasterCard is trialing facial recognition — dubbed "selfie pay" — and voice recognition.

The boast of Callsign — the company working with Deutsche Bank on the new technology — is that its system brings so many factors together.

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"If I stole your mobile . . . and I got hold of your pin number and biometric (fingerprint) and I was trying to impersonate you in some way, just because I could do that doesn't mean that I'm you," said Zia Hayat, chief executive and founder of Callsign.

Nick Doddy, Deutsche's regional innovation manager, said the system can adjust to multiple profiles to take into account whether a customer is sitting or standing. It can even adjust to temporary setbacks.

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"If you've broken your right arm and . . . you're at home and now you're using your left hand, it will say her location is good, her pin is good, her biometric is good, but she's now handling it in a different way, so it might say 'give me a facial recognition'," he said.

In tests, Deutsche says no one has managed to achieve a "match" above 15 per cent trying to hack someone else's account. In most cases, the match was zero.

Philip Gilligan, head of innovation at Deutsche, said that having such a high degree of confidence about who was accessing an account would allow the bank to let customers execute higher value transactions.

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This will benefit wealthy individuals, businesses or funds who want to move large sums with ease. Deutsche has been trialling the system and plans soon to extend it to 10,000 members of its staff as part of a larger pilot.

Mr Gilligan said it would be up to managers of the bank's business lines to decide if and when they wanted to roll out the system.

Paul Lee, an analyst at Deloitte, said other banks and payments companies were also looking at smartphone solutions. "Financial services companies are taking advantage of the fact that the modern smartphone has lots of sensors, and the more you use a phone the more data is gathered to authenticate the user," he said.

Barclays last year unveiled a biometric reader that identified clients through blood flow to their finger tips. So far it has only been rolled out to corporate clients.

The UK's Royal Bank of Scotland and Spain's BBVA are among several banks that employ fingerprint recognition on the iPhone 6 to authenticate users. BBVA also uses a digital wallet to send alerts to customers when their card has been used so they will see any suspect purchases immediately.