JPMorgan Considers Biometric Security for Corporate Mobile Banking Users

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As he works to improve the mobile banking platform JPMorgan (JPM) offers its corporate clients, Lloyd O’Connor, who is responsible for all electronic products used by corporate clients globally, is evaluating a variety of emerging biometric security technologies to enhance the client experience.  “We approach the security challenge by provisioning what we refer to as a ‘security cocktail,’ layering multiple technologies to protect our clients franchise and our company,” says O’Connor, managing director of JPMorgan Treasury Services. 

Specifically, the bank is looking at fingerprint and voice recognition technology to enhance security. “We're also looking at the level of protection around the devices, encrypted certificates on the device, and registration of the device,” O’Connor says.  “We need to provide a robust and secure client experience irrespective of the country where the service is to be offered.  As the range of channels and security credentials evolve, it also raises the importance of establishing a comprehensive credential management framework to handle multiple security types and models for the user.”

The two most pressing issues O’Connor grapples with as he develops international mobile services are security and regulatory challenges. “When financial companies seek to offer services in jurisdictions outside of North America, the landscape is anything but homogenous,” he says.

In each geography in which it operates, “we have people on the ground who are intimate with the requirements of local regulatory and compliance laws and regulatory bodies,” O’Connor says.

Last week, JPMorgan launched Image Deposit Direct Mobile (IDD Mobile), an extension to the bank’s traditional end-to-end check processing solution Image Deposit Direct for corporate clients, allowing them to deposit checks by taking pictures with their iPhone.

In the past, the conventional wisdom has been that business clients are less interested in depositing checks from a smartphone because they typically deal with large stacks of checks and would find the process tedious.

“For clients who are dealing with hundreds or thousands of checks, the prospect of photographing each one on a handheld device would be awkward,” O’Connor says. “That said, when you think of some of our clients, there are instances where at the point of receipt, it's convenient to act on the check.”  For instance, Ben E. Keith Company, the third largest beer distributor in the U.S. and operator of a fleet of more than 330 delivery trucks, uses the product to let its truck drivers deposit checks in the field. “They no longer have to make stops throughout the day to deposit checks and we now have quicker access to funds,” says Marilyn Jones, director of process improvement at Ben E. Keith.

To determine the next corporate mobile feature or set of features, JPMorgan staff spends time in clients’ operations to understand what their principal pain points are. “We do a huge amount of discovery onsite,” O’Connor says. The bank also conducts roundtable discussions with clients on product design.

Last July, JPMorgan rolled out the ability for clients to see their balances on a global basis through mobile app JPMorgan ACCESS Mobile. “It sounds terribly simple, but the ability to pull all that content together in real time for our clients has been well adopted by clients who travel. Clients can set their own alerts. That really helps them manage some of their counterparty risk; they would like to be aware of money coming in before they release certain transactions on the other side,” O’Connor says.

The bank offers a unique feature within JPMorgan ACCESS Mobile called Quick Decision. “Quite often clients are aware of things that are germane to their operations that we would not be aware of,” O’Connor says. An example is an anticipated payment that has not hit the books yet. Quick Decision lets the client add in those inbound receipts or outbound payments on their mobile device and recalculate a cash position that gives them instantaneous understanding of either funding needs or investment opportunities. “They find that particularly helpful, especially if there’s foreign money involved, because as you know there are cutoff times and other factors that have to be considered,” he says.

On the drawing board are financial and administrative approval capabilities for traveling executives. “We're tailoring these capabilities around specific client actions, to liberate the executive from their desk and allow them to have that level of facility while outside of the office,” O’Connor says, although he declined to be more specific.

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