Biometric banking offered to 15m HSBC and first direct customers

HSBC customers will be able to use voice or touch security to access accounts. Credit: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch

More than 15 million HSBC and first direct mobile banking customers are being offered biometric banking, using voice or touch security, to access their accounts.

Enrollment for voice ID will be available by first direct to customers in the coming weeks, followed by HSBC by the summer.

Touch ID is currently available on all Apple mobile devices for both HSBC and first direct. Customers need to download the mobile banking app and follow the instructions to link their fingerprint to it.

Nuance Communications Inc are supplying the voice biometrics technology which works by cross-checking against over 100 unique identifiers including both behavioural features such as speed, cadence and pronunciation, and physical aspects including the shape of larynx, vocal tract and nasal passages.

Customers who opt-in will have to enrol their 'voice print' and will no longer need to remember or recite their current telephone security password letters or PIN.

Francesca McDonagh, HSBC UK's head of retail banking and wealth management, described the offer which is being made to customers by the summer as "the largest planned roll out of voice biometric security technology in the UK".

HSBC customers will be able to use voice or touch security to access accounts. Credit: Anthony Devlin / PA Wire/PA Images

It is hoped that biometric banking could start to tackle the annoying issue of forgotten passwords.

There are 38% of Britons who tend to use the same password across most of their online accounts while 55% say they rarely update their passwords, according to a YouGov poll released by the banks to coincide with the launch.

It also found that 78% of 2,038 adults questioned were confident their body is unique enough to be used as a password and that 74% felt this would become the default password of the future.