Banks ditch physical dongles for digital tokens and biometrics

Banks in Singapore are ditching the physical dongle for simple and more convenient methods of authentication, Todayonline reported on April 11, 2017.

DBS will stop issuing the physical dongles in the second quarter of next year, in a move that will affect more than 2.6 million of its customers here. United Overseas Bank (UOB) intends to expand the use of digital tokens beyond its Mighty app to its Internet banking platform by end of this year. Both banks have been trialing “digital tokens” since with their customers since December.

Photo courtesy:
Photo courtesy:

Meanwhile, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp (OCBC) is considering biometrics for customer authentication. "OCBC is currently evaluating alternate modes of authentication, including biometrics, to ensure that the selected solution has the right balance of security and convenience," said Aditya Gupta, OCBC’s e-business head.

DBS’ digital token would be a new security enhancement on its digibank mobile application. The soft token will be rolled out to DBS' wealth customers on its iWealth app by next month, and subsequently to online banking users. "While customers using our digital channels will be advised to switch to digital token after the end of life of their physical token, we will continue to issue physical tokens until we fully implement the migration in the second quarter of 2018," said Jeremy Soo, Head of Consumer Banking Group, DBS.

Photo courtesy: UOB
Photo courtesy: UOB

The change is fuss-free – customers logging into their digibank app simply carry out a one-time set-up of the digital token using their physical dongle for authentication. Enhanced encryption and dynamic in-built security offer layered protection against malware targeting the mobile apps, said Soo. One-time passwords (OTPs) will be verified in the background, after which customers no longer have to key these in for low-risk transactions such as viewing transaction history.

"The move towards digital security tokens also enables us to reduce the number of hard tokens we issue. This translates into potential cost savings," said Aaron Chiew, Head of Digital and Mobile, Retail Digital Banking, UOB.

Kareyst Lin
Kareyst Lin – Senior Correspondent

Kareyst has experience in writing about B2B technology for Computerworld Singapore, MIS Asia and CIO Asia; and on government technology for GCIO Asia. Her pet areas are artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and smart cities - these are fueled by her obsession with sci-fi movies and philosophy of mind. An active Yoga practitioner and cat lover, with a background in Indian philosophy, subaltern and diaspora studies.


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