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Cybersecurity 14 May 2024

Digital identity: biometrics as a verification method

Digital channels have become the main way banks interact with their customers, both to check information and to carry out any kind of transaction. In this context, biometrics are gaining ground as they are a safe way to verify that customers are who they say they are. “At BBVA, there are over 40 use cases on a group level in which customer identity must be identified by biometrics, one of the most secure ways to prevent fraud,” said Natalia Ortega, Global Head of Financial Crime Prevention at BBVA.

Identificación biométrica

During her presentation at the Veridas ‘Identity & Business Day’ event, where various experts were brought together to discuss how the incorporation of digital identity is revolutionizing business models, Natalia Ortega explained the benefits of using biometrics for remote customer identification in sectors like the financial industry. “Thanks to the latest generation technologies based on biometrics, at BBVA, we are able to identify and authenticate our customers remotely. We currently have over 40 use cases in which customer identity must be identified with biometrics, and the goal is to continue growing.”

Some of the most relevant examples include: online customer registration, which have evolved from a selfie and video call to the incorporation of a proof of life; or the use of advanced biometrics as a mechanism to activate the softtoken, a protective method that generates unique, temporary codes, replacing text messages as an additional authentication factor. “In general, our use cases are created with the intention of enhancing protection and improving user experience and the global nature. Therefore, it is not surprising to see that what a country in Europe has, any Latin American country will also have several months later, or vice versa. Although Spain was the country where we started in 2017, today, both Mexico and other Latin American countries are ahead in terms of the volume of executed processes,” the Head of Financial Crime Prevention confirmed.

BBVA and its relationship with biometric solutions

“In 2015, in the middle of a prospecting period, we came across Das Nano, and started to work together on some proofs of concept. In June 2017, we decided to create Veridas together, and embark on this journey that has been ongoing for the past seven years. At this point, with the focus primarily on customer acquisition on digital channels, we launched our first use case with a great impact and repercussions in the media: ‘Hazte Cliente con un selfie’ (Become a customer with a selfie). Since then, we have been creating new use cases, jointly evolving solutions to address our business needs,” Ortega said.

Natalia Ortega en Veridas Day

BBVA has a strategy that aims to strengthen the protection offered to customers in all of their interactions with the bank - from customer registration to the signing of banking and/or non-banking transactions. Biometrics is the cornerstone of this strategy. In the words of the Head of Financial Crime Prevention, “We feel that this way, we mitigate, or at least minimize, many of the risks we are facing, such as phishing, smishing, identity theft, etc. Therefore, although Veridas started out as our identity partner for customer registration on digital channels, in recent years the relationship has evolved, harnessing its advanced biometrics capabilities to prevent fraud at BBVA.”

Biometric technology to combat the use of ‘deepfakes’ in identity theft

Artificial intelligence (AI) and all the advances in this field are revolutionizing automatic content generation. ‘Deepfakes’, or audiovisual creations that can simulate actions or statements by real people, are some of the most representative cases, with a wide range of uses, such as improving tools to detect diseases or fostering disinformation through ‘fake news’. These techniques are also increasingly being used in identity theft, and authentication systems need to be protected.

Veridas systems are ISO 30107 certified, which establishes their level of robustness against these attacks. Therefore, their algorithms can distinguish if they are interacting with an actual customer or a cyber criminal, analyzing certain elements of the image they receive to determine whether it is a real image or an attempt at fraud (the so-called ‘proof of life’). Based on this score, they authorize or reject access by this person.

The company recently launched a new solution to combat voice fraud, ‘Voice Shield’. It can determine whether you are talking to a real human or a machine in just a few seconds of conversation, and it is applicable to any time of interaction.

For BBVA, “incorporating biometrics into any of our processes is something our customers highly value, on the one hand because they are aware that it is one of the most robust and secure technologies that exist; and on the other because they provide a very positive user experience. Clearly, we are committed to biometrics as a solution that provides us distinctive aspects for both. This allows us to build a long-term relationship with our customers based on trust,” Natalia Ortega concluded.