Touch ID & Banking Apps



It was announced this week that two of the United Kingdom’s major banks – Royal Bank of Scotland and Natwest, have announced an upgrade to their current iPhone banking applications that introduces Apple’s Touch ID feature as an optional way of gaining access to these applications on your iPhone.

For someone that uses banking apps on their iPhone and uses Touch ID to unlock their iPhone every day, I see the potential and usefulness in applying this kind of functionality to my apps. I have tested and used several of the major banking apps available including Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and Santander – all of them offer a layer of security which needs you to type in a variety of pin codes, passwords and/or memorable letters to gain access to the app. Whilst I obviously understand the necessity for this level of security, I can’t help but wish there was somehow a quicker way to gain access to the app and avoid the complexity that can arise to access or to authorise payments without the detriment to my security.

This is where Touch ID would seem like the perfect solution for banking app such as these and the user would at least be given the choice of they would like to manage their banking app. Using Touch ID to gain access to other 3rd party apps on iOS is already popular with a lot of developers already giving it’s users the optional functionality. Apps that are already enabled for Touch ID include Dropbox1PasswordSkyBetOneDriveDayOne etc.

Only yesterday after news of these app updates were announced, the scaremongering began;

The MailOnline reporting:

But experts claim these people may be putting their money at risk as Touch ID only examines the look of fingerprints. So criminals could easily break into someone’s bank account by using a high-quality photograph or clear image of the phone-owner’s fingerprint. Such an image could even be gleaned from the phone’s screen itself. More sophisticated fingerprint-recognition systems can detect the warmth and veins within fingers. Ben Schlabs of the German think tank SRLabs said: ‘Fingerprints are not fit for secure local-user authentication as long as “fake fingers” can be produced from these pervasive copies.

“easily break into”

Despite Apple’s competitors struggling with their own versions of fingerprint ID, Apple seems to be garnering more support for their Touch ID technology and the fact that more and more developers and major companies are putting their trust in Touch ID by supporting it in their apps, tells it’s own story.

It is a fantastically useful and fast way to manage apps that need a level of security to deny unwanted 3rd party access – but as the owner and user, speed up access to these apps. We introduce this level of security to these apps so that the one time we lose our iPhone or it gets stolen etc., we have some peace of mind that although not 100% secure – and nothing is – that our sensitive information is secure. Until that day happens (and lets hope it never does) I want to be able to access these kind of apps on my iPhone quickly without having to enter pin codes, passwords and remembering memorable letters etc.

You can’t please everyone and there will always be users who will prefer to keep the existing level of security or indeed request extra when accessing these kind of applications on their devices but I for one look forward to potentially receiving Touch ID updates to the other major banking apps now that RBS and Natwest have led the way in the U.K.