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Webster Bank ramps up mobile banking app security with Touch ID

Webster Bank is one of the first United States-based banks to leverage Apple’s Touch ID feature into its mobile banking application as it aims to drive user adoption with streamlined security features, proving that the appeal of fingerprint identification is growing.

The Touch ID function enables consumers to log in to their accounts and view their transaction history simply by swiping their finger across the fingerprint identification button. As more financial institutions turn to mobile for banking apps, consumers are demanding one-step login experiences that do not require user names or passwords.

“We expect our customers to be very happy with this new feature,” said Sarah Barr, vice president of corporate and government communications at Webster Bank, Waterbury, CT. “It supports feedback we’ve received asking for quicker access to balances and mobile banking.

“We hope to see more app downloads and think this feature demonstrates Webster’s commitment to making mobile banking fast, simple, and convenient – enabling customers to bank when, where, and how they want.”

Intuitive experience
Users of the Webster Bank mobile banking app will now be able to access certain features via the touch identification function once they update the app. Consumers can check their transaction history or view their account balance without a user name, but must engage in full identification with a user name and password to leverage detailed transactions, such as transfers and payments.

Although Touch ID is only available for iOS devices, Webster Bank has found that a significant portion of its customers own iPhones, therefore allowing iPhone 5s, 6 and 6 Plus users to be one touch away from their banking information.

“A third of our customers and nearly half of our online customers bank via mobile,” Ms. Barr said.

Webster Bank believes the Touch ID capability will help bridge the gap between security and accessibility that consumers demand. Although the function is part of a multi-tiered security system, users can feel assured in knowing their finances are completely safe.

Providing security
A recent study conducted by Ipsos MORI discovered that 44 percent of smartphone users in the United States find new mobile banking apps more attractive if they have a one-step login experience available. While the capability is certainly attractive for financial institutions seeking to drive higher app usage, retail brands have also seen success from implementing Touch ID into their purchase processes.

Brands including Lowe’s, E*Trade and Amazon have embraced the function to drive mcommerce sales upwards, as consumers feel it helps them checkout more swiftly and therefore allow them to go back to their daily lives (see story). If customers have their credit card information already loaded into an app, they can swipe their fingerprint to complete a purchase, something that has also driven impulse buys.

However, incorporating fingerprint identification into mobile banking apps is a feature that is sure to resonate positively with many customers, especially those that prefer to keep up-to-date on their finances and require easy access to account information.

“Security is a primary concern of Webster and of our customers,” Ms. Barr said. “We believe Touch ID, as a biometric authentication mechanism, supports our customer’s concerns while enabling quick and easy access to mobile banking.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York