Two new mobile authentication technologies introduced by Bank of America

SafePass, a new two-factor authentication system that can be operated using a mobile phone, has been presented by Bank of America (BoA) for its Web banking customers. A second system involving a wallet card that generates passwords for single use in online brokerage and banking transactions is also being piloted by the Bank.

An optional feature for consumers and small business clients, SafePass is an extra security system available free of charge to online customers. To access the service, it is necessary to register your mobile phone on the BoA website accounts overview page. Once registered, you will then be issued with a six-digit code by SMS. The code can be used to authorize a range of online transactions, including money transfers that exceed regular limits, authorization of new payees for bill paying, and addition of new accounts for online transfer. The code expires after it has been used once.

BoA are promoting the new system as an extra layer to protect against unauthorized transactions. SafePass is designed to be used in conjunction with SiteKey, BoA's existing secure log-in system, which uses image and word recognition, as well as posing a series of three questions to customers before giving them access to their accounts. Using SafePass, customers will be able to log-in from computers not recognized by SiteKey. The code is used to authorize online transactions, such as transferring money for amounts over current limits, authorizing new payees in bill pay, adding new accounts for online transfers.

Says Lance Drummond, e-commerce executive for Bank of America: "We're committed to introducing features that continue to give our customers greater peace of mind when banking online." BoA claims that SafePass will significantly increase the security of online transactions and access to online accounts.

A second aspect of the SafePass system currently being piloted by BoA is a wallet-sized card with an embedded button that can be pressed to automatically generate the single-use code. BoA plan to release the SafePass card for online brokerage customers of the bank's Investment Services before the end of this year. Use of the card will be necessary to perform some online brokerage transactions.

BoA also plans to issue the card from next year as an optional feature for consumer and small business customers that can be used in conjunction with or in place of the SMS option.