NatWest’s biometric app security is blinking annoying

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NatWest recently introduced biometric approval on its app for transactions such as payments to a new account. It requires customers to look into the phone and blink (presumably to show we’re alive and not corpses propped up in front of the camera by some fraudster). And, in my experience, it hardly ever works. I’ve just sat here for four minutes, blinking like an idiot with the app telling me to move the camera closer until it’s virtually up my nose, until the approval time expired. This has been my repeated experience. Very annoying. But from a quick browse online I see I’m not alone.
CM, London

You are not alone. Review websites resound with the ire of NatWest customers locked out of their accounts because the facial recognition technology does not recognise their faces. It is, of course, a good thing that banks are stepping up security to prevent fraud, although facial recognition software is controversial, and other banks seem to have introduced biometrics without such hitches.

NatWest evidently needs to do some work on its datasets to prevent customers being cancelled because their face doesn’t fit. It seems that hooded eyes and glasses can befuddle the algorithms, which would explain the preponderance of laments from older customers.

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NatWest says that the blinking element enhances protection and it disputes that there’s a problem. “Based on the scale of customer usage, and the security it is providing our customers, this feature is operating well,” it says, suggesting dissatisfied users switch to online banking and a NatWest card reader.

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Those who want to stick with the app can disable the biometric feature, but there’s a catch – you have to successfully submit your biometrics to do so.

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