New USAA App Uses Facial Recognition, NFC Technology

Alternet and BIOMETRY Partner For Face and Voice Based mCommerceUnited Services Automobile Association (USAA), a financial services company focusing on customers in the military, has released a new mobile app with some impressively advanced functions and features. The app includes both biometric user authentication and NFC payment functionality.

The app’s biometric logon system is based on face recognition. To set it up, the user needs only to take a selfie using their iPhone or Android system; the app will subsequently use facial recognition technology to log the user on based on that image, very similar in function to the Android Lollipop OS’ Face Unlock feature. The app’s facial recognition is better than a password-based system and offers a huge benefit in terms of user experience.
Another improvement to the user experience is, of course, the NFC payment technology. USAA has partnered with numerous retailers including McDonald’s, Subway, Walgreens, and Macy’s to allow USAA members to use their mobile app for payment. So far almost 220 000 stores are participating, and it’s fair to expect that number to grow as the payment method rises in popularity.
It may appear somewhat unusual for such a seemingly niche financial services organization to be such an early-adopter of new mobile tech, but USAA’s target demographic – members of the armed forces – is a highly mobile group, and the company has proven keen to find innovative ways to cater to them. Back in 2012, the company announced the integration of a virtual assistant in its apps that employed voice-based biometrics to assist busy users. More broadly, we’ve also seen that biometric authentication has proven highly popular in the financial services sector generally, appearing everywhere from major institutions to smaller community banks.