Remote authentication potential consequences: a case study in Russia

The Bank of Russia, the Federal Financial Monitoring Service and the Ministry of Communications are working together with commercial banks to launch a pilot project for remote customer identification.

The unique system of identification and authentication (USIA) works by storing client information in a centralized database. The system relies primarily on voice and facial biometric identification. If the customer then asks for a product or service from another bank, then he/she does not have to go through the identification process, as the information is already accessible from the USIA via biometric identification. As of August 2016, 32 million people were already registered into the system.

If the pilot proves successfully, it is estimated that all banks will use the system by 2018, leading to:

  • simplified procedures to open an account and transfer money
  • eliminated service barriers (i.e. bank branch visits will be optional)
  • lowered customer loyalty to banks, as the client can easily switch
  • increased competition for banks (i.e. geographical location will be less important), with tech-savvy banks having a clear advantage
  • changed bank portfolios and services
  • the clients can receive an aggregated income statement from all their accounts of all banks