Biometrics , Multi-factor & Risk-based Authentication , Next-Generation Technologies & Secure Development

Case Study: A Community Bank Deploys Biometrics

Leveraging Smartphones' Fingerprint Readers for Authentication
Case Study: A Community Bank Deploys Biometrics
Dan Mercurio and Mark Tracy, Cambridge Savings Bank

Cambridge Savings Bank, a $3.2 billion community institution in Massachusetts, is incorporating biometrics into its online and mobile banking platforms as a way to limit, and in some cases remove, the need for username and password authentication. Dan Mercurio and Mark Tracy, executives at this community bank, say customers are embracing this enhanced security feature.

Eight months ago, the bank launched the use of Apple Touch ID for authentication, and it recently deployed Android Fingerprint ID, says Mercurio, the bank's senior vice president of consumer banking, in an interview with Information Security Media Group.

The bank's biometrics authentication leveraging both mobile platforms is provided by Digital Insight, an NCR company.

Security risks posed by the potential of a biometric fingerprint being compromised are not a worry for customers and are not overly concerning for the bank, says Tracy, the bank's senior vice president and chief technology officer.

"We also use device ID, and, obviously, what the biometrics does is add another layer," Tracy says "It uses the 'who you are' aspect of multifactor authentication. ... And as our customers, again, are familiar with using the fingerprint to log into their phones, this is kind of a natural extension. And those people who are comfortable with that type of authentication are the ones who are more drawn to incorporate it into their app use."

Mercurio adds that customer feedback related to Touch ID has focused more on the ease of use than any worry about security risks. "That is something that allows us to feel comfortable about exploring other biometric solutions as we look out across the next few years," he says.

Not a Cure-All

But Tracy stresses that biometrics is not a cure-all; it must be used as one of many layers to authenticate users.

"We try to take a layered approach, try to present options to the customers to consider," he says. "And from that perspective, biometrics makes it a better environment."

In this interview (see audio link below photos), Mercurio and Tracy also discuss:

  • Work they are doing with their core processor Fiserv to expand biometrics offerings beyond fingerprints;
  • How the number of Touch ID users has grown in the last eight months; and
  • Why community banks and credit unions are in some cases leading the pack when it comes to enhanced authentication deployments.

Mercurio manages Cambridge Savings Bank's consumer banking group and oversees all the operations related to the bank's branches, customer contact center and residential, consumer and small business lending groups. Previously, he held management positions at Fleet Bank in Boston and the former Wachovia Bank, now part of Wells Fargo, in Charlotte.

Tracy, who has been with Cambridge Savings Bank for 17 years, oversees information technology management, strategic vendor management/engagement and operational oversight. The bank has been a leader in adopting new technologies, including advanced statement imaging and paperless back-office processing, which have been deployed under Tracy's oversight. Previously, Tracy worked at Salem Five Bank in Massachusetts.

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