RBS and NatWest have become the first to launch fingerprint technology which gives the customer access to their bank via the mobile phone. It will be available to their customers that have either the iPhone 5 or an iPhone 6.
In order to utilize the facility, the customer will have to first turn on the fingerprint technology on the necessary iPhone and also download the most up to date version of the RBS/NatWest mobile app.
The fingerprint will be taken from the thumb of the customer. They will still have the option of continuing with the more traditional passcode if preferred.
The Managing Director at RBS and NatWest Direct Bank, Stuart Haire, commented on the new feature: ìThere has been a revolution in banking, as more and more of our customers are using digital technology to bank with us. Adding Touch ID to our mobile banking app makes it even easier and more convenient for customers to manage their finances on the move and directly responds to their requests.î
Security specialists have articulated a concern over how safe the new app is. Ben Schlabs who works for a hacking think tank stated: ìThe security implications are the same, it is just as dangerousÖ I think it has been shown that it is pretty easy to spoof it and the risks arenít fully understood.î
He went on to elaborate the specific dangers of fingerprint technology: ìJust the fact that you are carrying the key around with you and leave copies of it exposed everywhere you go makes it a very different risk to something that is inside your brain. The risks are poorly understood.î
However, he did go on to allay immediate fears: ìThere have not been any reports that I know of with the iPhone sensor of actual crimes being enabled by it.î
Furthermore, there are limitations on the new app. For example, there is further identity verification for some of the platforms that are used to pay money out and also there are maximum payment restrictions. The banks have also stated that customers would be required to re-input the passcode after three failed fingerprint logins.