NatWest recently introduced biometric approval to its app for transactions like payments to a new account. It requires customers to look at the phone and blink (presumably to show that we are alive and not corpses placed on camera by some scammer). And, in my experience, it almost never works. I’ve been sitting here for four minutes, blinking like an idiot with the app telling me to zoom in on the camera until it’s practically up to my nose, until the approval time expired. This has been my repeated experience. Very annoying. But from a quick search online I see that I am not alone.
CM, London

You’re not alone. Review websites resonate with the anger of NatWest customers who can’t access their accounts because facial recognition technology doesn’t recognize their faces. It is of course a good thing that banks are increasing security to prevent fraud, although facial recognition software is controversial and other banks seem to have introduced biometrics without such problems.

Clearly NatWest needs to do some work on their data sets to prevent customers from being canceled because their face doesn’t fit. It appears that hooded eyes and glasses may confuse algorithms, which would explain the preponderance of complaints from older customers.

NatWest says the blinking item improves protection and denies there is a problem. “Based on the scale of customer usage and the security it provides our customers, this feature is working well,” he says, suggesting that dissatisfied users switch to online banking and a NatWest card reader.

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

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