BBVA Bancomer gets ready for biometric banking

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Friday, August 17, 2018

Mexico's largest commercial bank, BBVA Bancomer, said it invested 256mn pesos (US$13.5mn) in development of biometric technology, getting a head start on upcoming regulatory requirements.

In a statement, Bancomer said it is well on its way to implement tools that integrate a combination of facial, voice and fingerprint recognition to recognize and authenticate its almost 20mn clients as part of efforts to curb fraud and identity theft.

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Eduardo Osuna, director of Grupo Financiero BBVA Bancomer, told a press conference that the bank is also working to integrate artificial intelligence that would learn users' gestural movements, as reported by local media outlet El Financiero.

Osuna detailed Bancomer's plans for biometric security with tests already underway. He said that in the first month of testing with facial recognition, the bank had confirmed the identity of 1.3mn clients and expects to enroll all clients within two to three years.

The move comes in anticipation of recently updated rules from banking regulator CNBV that order institutions to be ready by January 2019 to validate identity by using fingerprints on voter ID records. Bancomer said it already has the infrastructure to begin the rollout of such systems.

Of Bancomer's 7,500 ATMs, 42% have fingerprint recognition hardware installed, but only 500 have the updated interface needed to utilize the technology and the plan is to have it all ready by the end of the year.

At the conference, Francisco Leyva, general director of systems and operations, said enhanced security measures had helped to identify 25,000 fraudulent operations from January to July.

"In fraud mitigation efforts, artificial intelligence is being used to detect unusual behavior in customer transactions, biometric technology to detect variations in the use of the channel and contrast between normal operations with fraudulent ones," said Leyva.

The 25,000 fraud preventions represented 34% of all customer complaints filed with the bank in the period and the new technologies also contributed to a reduction of 60% in the number of complaints, according to Bancomer.

The new CNBV regulations will require the banking industry to fully implement a wide range of biometric tools by March 2020. Bancomer said it plans on investing another 370mn pesos by that deadline to be fully compliant.

The bank will in October invite clients en masse to register their fingerprints and voice signatures.