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What Is Touchless Technology?
Touchless technology enables users to complete transactions or perform actions with systems touch-free. It leverages optical and biometric sensing capabilities, enabling computer systems to receive instructions through user behavior or physical movement. Touchless technology helps improve and manage access to financial services and institutions in a number of ways.
Types of Touchless Technologies
1. Touchless Sensing
Touch-free sensors can detect the presence or movement of a person or object. These are fairly common in people’s lives. Everyone has experienced motion detectors at some point when they walk through automatic doors at a mall, hotel, convenience store, or building.
2. Gesture Recognition
This is perhaps the most common type of touchless technology out there. Simple gestures can help users control or interact with devices that can sense them. For instance, waving your hand to deactivate a camera or open a door or bodily movements in video gaming are examples of gesture recognition.
3. Voice Recognition
Users can speak to devices to control or access them. A particularly popular application for this technology is to interact with personal digital assistants like Alexa, Google Home, Siri, and Bixby.
4. Facial Authentication and Recognition
Facial recognition systems have played a huge role in helping increase automation and security at financial institutions and elsewhere. This technology improves on the premise of voice recognition to further improve touchless interaction. Only in this case, the user doesn’t even need to speak. Beyond access control for workplaces, facial recognition systems have helped redefine the security and asset protection spaces. They enable everything from unlocking a phone to identity validation.
5. Personal Digital Devices
In a more general sense, touchless technology implies that you don’t have to touch any public surfaces, like elevator buttons, door handles, or shared screens. The advent of smartphones, tablets, and laptop computing has played a huge role in facilitating touch-free interactions since users can avoid coming into contact with strangers and public surfaces. This was particularly significant at the height of the pandemic when hygiene and sanitation took on added importance.
How Touchless Technology Is Improving Financial Services Institutions
Customer experience is the primary business driver in this new digital environment. Banks are trying to find ways to retain the personal touch across a virtual interface and win customers through compelling digital experiences. This goes beyond helping customers conduct simple payment transactions and take out loans. Banks are being challenged to provide transformative solutions for hitherto unaddressed issues.
1. Digital Banking
Even prior to the emergence of COVID-19, retail banking in the U.S. was witnessing a dramatic shift in customer engagement. According to Deloitte, from 2010-2020, U.S. retail branch usage declined by 35% across all age groups and by nearly 50% among 18-24 year-olds. Digital interactions, on the other hand, saw a jump of 15%.
During the pandemic, Americans who refrained from using digital financial services declined by as much as 30%. A number of them used online banking services for the first time. In fact, not only is digital financial technology helping improve remote access, but it’s also a competitive differentiator. Deloitte surveys indicate that underbanked customers are three times as likely to open deposit accounts with digital-only financial providers.
- Integrated financial management — improved financial technology has made it possible to provide customers a seamless experience across web and mobile, giving them both an eagle-eye view of their finances as well as granular spending insights.
- Advanced security — financial institutions and their data tend to be prime targets for hackers and cyber thieves. Digital technologies like 2-factor authentication (2FA) and biometric authentication can help improve customer protection and account access.
- Financial goal-setting — by enabling goal-based segmentation of finances across various bank products, providers can empower their customers to achieve personal financial objectives. Improved technology tools like AI financial coaches, virtual education, and customizable products and services can help deliver this facility.
Banks and other financial institutions often need heightened security solutions, given the nature of their business. They’re sensitive environments that are visited by all manner of people, including staff, customers, service providers, and even dignitaries. To fully safeguard cash and other assets stored there, they need robust, tailored access control systems that can guarantee security while improving automation and convenience for everyone concerned.
Alcatraz AI, for instance, is preferred by financial institutions across the U.S. Our touchless authentication technology improves security by delivering autonomous access control while maintaining a frictionless experience for all on-site personnel.
Our solution, the Rock, also offers multi-factor authentication, including real-time 3D facial mapping. This can be combined with third-party badge readers for 2-factor and even 3-factor security solutions for different areas. Build a touchless, zero-trust environment by enforcing identity verification, anti-tailgating, and COVID-19 protocols.
Vitally, the system uses facial authentication as opposed to facial recognition. This means it does not collect personally identifiable information (PII), and enrolled users can opt-in, knowing that they’re consenting to verification rather than surveillance.
It offers a host of applications for financial services spaces, including:
- Vault and safety deposit box access
- Access to data center and IDF/MDF server rooms
- Employee access
- Employee time and attendance
- Visitor authentication
3. Contactless Payments
Contactless payments have been on the upswing for more than a decade. Nordic nations like Sweden were a largely cashless society even before 2020. However, COVID-19 was a catalyst for widespread global adoption of this trend. The fear of the virus being transmitted via contaminated surfaces prompted millions of retail customers worldwide to switch to contactless financial technology for improved sanitation.
A Mastercard survey found that contactless transactions grew twice as quickly as traditional payment options at retail checkouts in 2020. The same survey indicated that some 79% of its respondents had transitioned to contactless payments during this period.
Contactless technologies allow users to pay for their purchases by hovering their device or card over compatible point-of-sale (PoS) terminals. No-touch PoS payment options include phone apps, wearables, and near field communications (NFC) cards.
NFC and its parent technology, radio-frequency identification (RFID), are key constituents of contactless payments. They are deployed via an integrated circuit chip and antenna embedded within credit cards and devices like smartphones and smartwatches.
Using NFC, this chip can communicate with PoS terminals when the card or device is passed over them.
This technology offers an improved financial and retail experience for consumers in many ways. It contributes to a heightened sense of well-being by reducing contact and contamination. It can also make checkout a whole lot faster and improve the utility of personal digital devices.
Technology firms like Apple, Mastercard, Amazon, and PayPal are leading the contactless revolution. And it is a revolution. As many as 59% of global consumers now prefer contactless payment methods over cash. It’s not hard to see contactless capability shifting from a nice-to-have to a must-have for financial institutions worldwide.
4. Mobile Wallets
Digital wallets are one of the most successful, if not the most successful, technology innovations for improved financial penetration among younger generations. Some 29% of Millennials are likely to open deposit accounts with providers offering digital-only solutions. One in 10 use mobile wallets for every purchase. You only need to look at the ubiquity of apps like Google Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay to realize this.
Digital wallets are also a key driver of more democratic financial access among underbanked populations in developing countries. In many cases, these wallets are their first instance of participation in the banking and financial system. This is not surprising, given the propensity of fast-growing countries to “skip” technologies, as with landlines, CDs, and, indeed, traditional financial instruments.
The beauty of mobile wallets — the reason they’re such an improvement in financial technology — is that they make peer-to-peer (P2P) payments fully touchless. You can pay anyone from a friend to a creditor and a checkout cashier via your mobile without having to resort to instruments like checks.
They’ve also made the act of paying much more convenient. You don’t need ready access to a bank or even a laptop. Just your smartphone is enough. It’s no wonder that more than half of the world’s population is projected to rely on mobile wallets by 2025. The advent of 5G technology and faster financial processing is set to improve their utility even further.
5. Digital Currencies
If mobile wallets were a big stride in enabling touchless finances, digital currencies are pretty much the pinnacle of the trend. They’ve even made credit cards redundant, let alone cash or checks.
Neither bitcoin, nor any other cryptocurrency, is a physical object, nor is its value underpinned by any physical object. The value of every traditional currency is strongly tied to the import and export of goods and services, as well as to the value of gold. Cryptocurrencies are attributed a monetary worth by people simply because they choose to. They are entirely intangible and untouchable and yet, valuable. As of 2022, there are over 10,000 digital currencies in the world.
Blockchain, the technology underpinning this improved means of financial transaction, is incredibly important as well. Distributed ledger technologies (DLT) like blockchain have inherent security advantages for financial institutions and other entities. It’s believed to have far-ranging applications for everything from healthcare to energy and supply chain management.
6. Customer Security and Fraud Prevention
Digital contactless payments have significant implications for the degree of protection providers are able to offer their customers. Cybersecurity is always a concern when financial transactions are involved. However, digital payment technologies offer improved security for both customers and financial institutions. Advantages like rigorous encryption and multi-factor authentication protocols make them much safer than offline payments.
For instance, mobile data is localized and locked behind PIN numbers and biometric sign-ins. Contactless payments often involve authentication notifications and one-time passwords (OTPs) for each transaction. These are extremely difficult to duplicate for potential hackers attempting to gain remote access to your finances. This makes contactless payments even more secure than even credit cards. It also eliminates the need to carry around hard currency in physical wallets.
Integrating contactless payment technology into their offerings enables financial institutions to provide improved security and fraud protection for their customers. It also contributes to improved compliance management and increased public confidence in their systems.
7. Lower Costs
Touchless technology can help financial institutions reduce expenses across the board. For starters, autonomous access control systems can help cut down on the need for physical security guards, reducing labor costs for organizations.
Also, contactless payments are a much faster way to process with lesser workforce requirements. They reduce the time that providers need to spend on operating card machines or counting cash. Finally, the improved security that contactless financial technology delivers means that in the event of a breach, businesses get their money from their insurers without any disputes.
In many ways, the world is fundamentally different than it was 10 years ago. Customers and stakeholders expect end-to-end digital journeys for most processes. For many financial institutions, adopting touchless technology is a question of when not if.
Alcatraz AI offers cutting-edge touchless access control systems for financial institutions to safeguard their premises while improving ease of mobility for personnel within. Browse through our resources to understand how our technology delivers improved security for financial and other institutions. Contact us to find out more about our solution today.
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