Nationwide develops behavioural authentication prototype

A padlock on a motherboard surrounded by keys

Nationwide's Innovation Lab, BehavioSec and Unisys are developing an authentication system that uses a customer's behaviour to allow access rather than requiring an additional password to access their bank account from their mobile device.

The innovation comes off the back of research that revealed 70 per cent of people can't remember their passwords while three quarters reset them twice a month using the 'forgotten password' link because they can't recall them.

According to the report, most people have to remember six different passwords for the array of services they have signed up to, while an unlucky quarter of the nation has more than 10 to recite at any one time and this is causing distress for the bank's mobile banking users.

"While we all know it's important to change our passwords regularly, this research highlights just how many different passwords people need to remember in an increasingly digital world," James Smith, head of innovation at Nationwide Building Society said.

"With 19 million logins a month on our mobile bank, ensuring Nationwide's customers can access our services in a safe, secure and simple way is a key priority for the Society."

After questioning its mobile app users about how they would like to access their account, it was decided Nationwide should focus on using biometric details, such as retina scanners or facial recognition to allow access to its services via a mobile device.

It has now developed a prototype that uses behavioural details, such as how a person swipes the screen and interacts with their mobile device to confirm their identity.

"Whether our customers are online, on the phone or in our branches, meeting their needs for every type of transaction is a complex business," Smith added.

"We believe that using a range of biometrics, such as fingerprint, facial recognition, behavioural and voice can give customers choice in how they interact with Nationwide in the future, with implications that go far beyond simply logging in to our mobile app."

Nationwide hasn't revealed whether the technique of authentication will ever make it to the mainstream though.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.