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USAA adds biometric recognition to mobile banking app

All stateside members will soon have the option to use their voice or face to quickly and securely access their account information, the FI says.

All USAA members residing in the states will soon be able to log into the FI's mobile app via biometric recognition, according to a press release. This will make USAA the first U.S. financial institution to offer facial and voice recognition on a mobile device as added protection against fraud and identity theft. USAA said it will roll out its biometric logon capabilities during early 2015.

The technology will allow members to access their account information using multifactor authentication options that include a unique PIN, as well as face and voice recognition — all of which work in conjunction with a security code generated by the app for each login. 

"USAA is committed to cutting-edge solutions to make our members' financial transactions as secure as possible," Gary McAlum, USAA chief security officer, said in the announcement. "The use of multifactor authentication through biometrics is one of the most effective ways to increase security protection as traditional passwords become increasingly obsolete."

USAA facial recognition requires users to look at the screen and, when prompted, blink their eyes. For voice recognition, users must read a short phrase.

The program was pilot tested in California, Texas and Florida, and is so far available to members in additional states that include Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington.

Biometric logon is part of a broader effort by USAA to enhance the member experience and security within the mobile app, the FI said . The organization recently enhanced the app to allow members to connect with a member service representative using a voice-over-Internet connection rather than a traditional phone call.

"The recent enhancements to the USAA mobile app highlight our focus on the member experience we deliver," said Carl Liebert, USAA chief operating officer. "We'll continue to find and develop all solutions that can make the lives of our members simple, easy and more secure."

The new option will be available through an update to the USAA mobile app for iOS and Android devices. USAA also plans to test the use of fingerprint identification to log in to the organization's mobile app.