18th February 2015
Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest will be offering customers the ability to log in to mobile banking using just a fingerprint from tomorrow.
The two brands (part of the same bank) will be the first to offer this “Touch ID” system to UK banking customers.
Using Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor, RBS and NatWest customers who have an iPhone 5S, iPhone6 and iPhone 6 plus will be able to access their mobile banking app without having to enter a password.
More and more of RBS and NatWest’s customers are using digital technology to bank. Nearly 50% of the banks’ 15m customers actively use online banking, with over 3m customers using the mobile app every week. RBS and NatWest have 1.8m active iPhone users, of which 880,000 use an iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus.
Over 167,000 of RBS and NatWest’s customers use the app to bank between 7am and 8am on their commute to work every day.
But Ben Schlabs, of SRLabs, a German hacking think tank, told the BBC that using TouchID alone to gain access to a banking app introduced dangers that were not present when using passwords or Pins.
“Just 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.”
However, he said that most people would have little need to worry, adding: “There have not been any reports that I know of with the iPhone sensor of actual crimes being enabled by it”.
Stuart Haire, managing director, RBS and NatWest Direct Bank,said: “There 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.”