OCBC users may be able to access accounts with fingerprints

OCBC users may be able to access accounts with fingerprints

Customers of OCBC Bank may soon be able to access their bank accounts at the touch of a finger, via their smartphones.

The Straits Times understands that the bank is developing a smartphone application that uses fingerprint recognition technology to grant access to accounts, without needing customers to log in with usernames and passwords.

The app is likely to be available only for iOS devices with Touch ID fingerprint sensors.

Hence, customers with an iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus can use the Touch ID function to access their bank information.

If the app materialises, OCBC will be the first bank in Singapore to use biometric authentication for mobile banking by leveraging on Apple's Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

When contacted, OCBC remained tight-lipped on its new app, which is likely to cater to its growing group of mobile and Internet banking customers.

However, the bank's head of group corporate communications, Koh Ching Ching, told The Straits Times that OCBC has invested significantly in building its digital capabilities over the past three years.

She said: "We are always looking at new ways to use technology to make banking and wealth management easy to use and accessible to our customers."

Last year, OCBC introduced a service that allows customers to send money to friends using their Facebook contact and e-mail address, a facility which it touted as the first of its kind in Singapore's banking industry.

Meanwhile, Maybank Singapore has a mobile banking application that allows its online banking customers to send money directly to other Singapore-registered mobile-phone numbers.

UOB's Mobile Cash service lets its customers send cash to anyone in Singapore with a mobile phone. The recipient can then withdraw the money at the bank's automated teller machines.

But even as banks strive to make banking easier and more convenient for their customers, questions have been raised over whether there is a greater security risk when banking information can be accessed at a single touch.

Security expert Wong Onn Chee does not think so.

"The risks involved in using biometric authentication on smartphones are no different from non-biometric authentication," said the director of Infotect Security. In fact, Mr Wong feels that biometric authentication techniques are generally more secure than passwords.

But he hopes that banks will augment the use of biometric authentication with passwords and PINs, and not replace traditional methods totally.

"Lifting fingerprints off users and counterfeiting them is already possible now. Even Hollywood has romanticised such actions in their movies," he said.

"Hence, combining biometric authentication with password or PIN authentication is safer."

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