Tangerine Bank has relaunched its mobile app for iOS, adding secure instant messaging support and new biometric security features, the Toronto-based direct banking firm announced today.

In an April 26 statement, Tangerine CIO Charaka Kithulegoda said the company’s goal was to create a single cohesive, yet secure, experience for clients that would serve their banking needs with the fewest steps possible.

The biometric features, provided by Kansas City, Missouri-based EyeVerify Inc. and Burlington, Massachusetts-based Nuance Communications, allow users to protect their accounts with an eye-scan or vocal password, while the “Secure Chat” feature, developed in collaboration with IBM Corp. using Genesys technology, allows them to message a customer service representative under the in-app “Contact Us” section.

The in-app chat feature is identical to the real-time chat added to Tangerine’s website in January, and allows users to receive help from live associates regarding actions such as changing their address or making a lump-sum mortgage payment.

Thus far, Tangerine’s updated mobile banking app is only available for iOS, though the company said that Android support would be added in the coming months.

While Tangerine is touting itself as the first bank in Canada to offer EyeVerify and Nuance’s VocalPassword feature, biometrics in banking appears to be a trend that will spread industry-wide before long: MasterCard has developed a biometric payment service for online purchases, Identity Check, that will be released in Canada this summer, and Bank of Montreal has announced that it will be offering the program as well. Meanwhile, RBC and CIBC have incorporated voice authentication features into their telephone banking services.

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