USAA is pairing with an Indian security company to commercialize some of its in-house security innovations.

The San Antonio financial services company announced Tuesday that it has granted development rights to some of its patented security technologies to Persistent Systems. The firm will use USAA’s innovations to create products that address one of the hottest challenges in bank tech: authentication and security solutions.

Specifically, it will develop a commercial version of the risk-based authentication engine that is based on USAA patents and security algorithms, the tech company said in a press release. The big idea is to commercialize a product that uses more security layers than basic user passwords and security questions in a bid to prevent, say, a banking employee accessing an unauthorized account.

The industry has long needed more secure methods than passwords and security questions — a need that is only growing as cybersecurity threats continue to mount.

Given USAA’s reputation as an innovator, Persistent said it is expecting significant bank demand for such products.

“There are Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 banks that want the same capability as USAA,” Sudhir Kulkarni, president of digital at Persistent Systems, said in an email. “Tier 1 banks can afford a large technical security staff to home-grown custom solutions like this, but Tier 2 and Tier 3 banks must buy.”

Although USAA stands to benefit from the partnership, the bank says it is also exporting its internal tech for the benefit of the industry.

“The financial services industry is highly connected, and we want every link in the chain to be strong from a security perspective,” Gary McAlum, USAA’s chief security officer, said in a press release. “That’s why we’re excited to work with Persistent Systems to see patented innovations we use today developed into products that can benefit others in the financial sector. Just like we say to our members, we are stronger together than we are apart.”

Gary McAlum, chief security officer at USAA
Gary McAlum, chief security officer at USAA
Mary Wisniewski

Mary Wisniewski

Mary is the deputy editor of the BankThink blog. She also writes on a variety of subjects as part of American Banker's bank tech team.