Gerald van Veldhuijsen - ABN AMRO Bank: Biometrics and Liveness

March 1, 2024 by Gerald van Veldhuijsen - ABN AMRO

Gerald van Veldhuijsen is Lead Product Owner for Digital Identity and Onboarding at ABN AMRO Bank. He sees innovations around biometric systems and liveness helping to tackle the increasingly sophisticated identity fraud threats faced by ABN AMRO, and helping ABN AMRO’s customers retain trust in their bank’s fraud prevention systems.


What is the most important factor for customers when it comes to digital identity verification?

Trust. Our customers want to feel safe. They want to be assured that their money is safe, and that their data is safe. But our customers read the news, they read the socials and they know about the threat of deep fakes. They want to be assured they can still trust the technology their bank is offering to protect their assets. So, trust is driving everything.


What particular challenges are you facing right now?

One of the threats we’re fighting is account takeover. We need to make sure we are dealing with you, the customer, and not someone else who has taken over your account and is using a picture of you, for example. So, we use biometrics to make sure that it’s you pushing the buttons.

There are two checks to be done: one is whether there is a match between the face we are interacting with and your ID document, and the other is liveness. Liveness detection is the check we do to determine that the person you think we are interacting with is actually there and present during the use of the channel. So, we use liveness technology from Mitek. By using liveness detection, we can ensure that the person we think we are interacting with is actually present behind the screen. 


How do your customers feel about using biometrics?

Most customers don’t have an issue with biometric systems if you explain it well. It makes them feel safe because your biometrics are the one thing you cannot pass on to another person. But regulation states that it shouldn’t be mandatory, and there is also a group of customers who feel it’s important to have an alternative, so they need to be given a choice whether or not to use it.


There’s a lot of discussion right now around reusable identities. We’ve very recently had the news that Members of the European Parliament have backed plans for an EU-wide digital wallet. What is your thinking with regards to a reusable digital identity? 

A reusable identity using biometrics systems is really interesting to investigate.

In Europe, we have guidelines on strong customer authentication. The rules prescribe that you must use two out of three from: something you know, something you have, and, something you are. Something you know - that can be a password. Something you have could be a debit card. Something you are is usually either your face or your voice. With the first two, if you are clever as a fraudster, then you can find a way to access those so they can be passed on from victim to fraudster. But your face, well you cannot pass it on and you cannot copy it. So, biometrics is a really safe way of protecting your banking. However, there are still some challenges with it that mean we must ask whether it is safe enough yet. If things get compromised, there’s no such thing as a face reset! So we need to ask: how are we going to deal with those fundamental risks? Once we have got that straight then we can move on with implementing it. 


Do you think customers are ready to embrace the concept of a reusable digital identity?

Customers are open to it when there are clear benefits. When it reduces friction or it saves you money, then people are open to it. One of the fundamental benefits of a reusable digital identity is that it’s based on a foundation of privacy. So, you as a customer are really in control of what you share and who you share it with. 


What role do you see artificial intelligence playing in digital identity in the coming years?

Previously, the human eye was doing the checks: Does the face match? Is the person alive? But we’ve already got to the point where the technology - the AI - is outperforming the human eye. It’s already doing a better job at protecting us against simple fakes. I think the topic, now, is how well AI can protect us from AI! That is what AI has to do in the upcoming years.


To learn more about the role of reusable digital identity, AI, biometrics and security in preventing identity fraud in banking, watch the series of short thought leadership videos.

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