NZ Bank to Offer Mobile User Authentication

A deal between New Zealand's ASB Bank and security software company RSA isn't a reaction to the spate of email scams that have hit several banks in Australia, says ASB technology and operations manager Clayton Wakefield.

"It's not about that, it's about the fact we're getting more and more customers using the net."

The arrangement involves the ASB using RSA's mobile two-factor authentication software, so that when ASB customers access their banking online, they authenticate themselves via their mobile phone.

The RSA software creates a unique, one-off access code when a user logs in and sends it via SMS to the user's mobile phone, with the user then entering the code to verify their identity.

The upshot is that anyone attempting to steal a customer's identity would have to also steal their phone and Wakefield says another benefit is the elimination of the need for token authentication.

"It's like an intelligent token."

The service isn't available to customers yet, but will be so within six months, Wakefield says.

"It will be released with other customer products — it will be integrated into them."

He says the selection of RSA didn't come about through a formal tender process but from casual discussions with RSA.

RSA says the feature is scalable to millions of users.

Internet banking is taking off at ASB, with 3.8 million online transactions per month recorded recently and Wakefield says banking from mobile phones is set to take off.

"We're working on getting Fastnet Mobile across the board — at the moment it's just [available with] Telecom, but we're talking to Vodafone."

The number of Fastnet Mobile users is "in the thousands" and he believes that figure will grow significantly in the near future.

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