Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation offers Digipass 302 Comfort Voice, a one-time password device with audio capability

Aya Uchikawa,

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) further improved the accessibility of its SMBC Direct online banking service by offering an audio-based, one-time password (OTP) token for visually impaired customers.

Secure and Accessible Online Banking

As the second largest bank in Japan by assets, SMBC offers a broad range of banking services to retail customers. The bank values innovation and speed and has been using OTP tokens for more than 10 years to improve the customer experience. In 2006, SMBC was first-to-market among Japanese banks with the launch of their OTP service for retail online banking; the bank then implemented the Digipass® 275 hardware token in 2013. In 2015, the bank introduced a software solution and began offering an OTP application for smartphones, incorporating the OneSpan Mobile Security Suite (formerly DIGIPASS for Apps) to help prevent fraud in online banking transactions while improving user convenience, especially for existing mobile banking application users with the app-to-app capability.

During this time, the bank began designing their websites and web services to make them accessible to people with disabilities. To ensure a high level of accessibility through online banking, customers can now access information by using voice-reading software and can use the bank’s services without having to physically visit the bank. SMBC is continuously innovating and expanding such functions to keep pace with digitalization trends globally.

Despite these innovations, the bank still faced a challenge. “When considering accessibility for visually impaired customers, we had ensured the SMBC Direct page was accessible via voice-reading software. The one-time password application for smartphones, which we began offering in 2015, also combines the voice-reading function of the smartphone,” explains Mr. Yuji Konishi, Group Leader in the SMBC Retail IT Strategy. “However for customers who do not use a smartphone, there was a problem because the only model of hardware token available to them was one that displayed one-time passwords on the LCD screen.”

Case Study

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation offers Digipass 302 Comfort Voice, a one-time password device with audio capability

SMBC improved the accessibility of its SMBC Direct online banking service with an audio one-time password (OTP) authenticator for visually impaired customers.

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Introduction of the Voice-reading OTP Device

Ms. Kiyo Ishikawa, Deputy Director of Retail IT Strategy, explains that, “OneSpan’s voice-reading hardware token, Digipass 302 Comfort Voice, was an optimal product to solve this problem. We can use it with the same infrastructure as our existing hardware tokens so it can be quickly introduced without additional development. As the functions and operation are almost the same as our other OneSpan tokens, we can deploy with minimal training for customers and internal departments. Since we’ve seen a high level of user satisfaction with the OneSpan products, I expect customers will also quickly adopt the new audio hardware token.”

In preparation for deployment of the voice-reading type tokens, SMBC conducted research to better understand how visually impaired customers use PCs and smartphones. This research also helped the bank plan the best approach to deploy the tokens to their customer base.

Secure, Convenient Services that Everyone Can Use

According to Mr. Toshihiro Eto, Director of Retail IT Strategy, “We always want to be mindful of creating barrier-free services, so that customers with disabilities can use our services with convenience. In our branches, we set up ramps at the entrance and offer reading glasses and canes. It is natural that we would proceed with similar services on our websites and for online banking. Our data indicates that there are a number of customers with disabilities who do not use smartphones. They prefer to use hardware tokens. We have now found a solution that provides them a high level of accessibility, security, and ease of use when doing their online banking.”

The voice-reading token will be used to protect customers’ valuable assets in the same way the bank’s existing one-time password tokens do. The new devices will be used to securely transfer money via online banking, as well as to authorize cancellation of term deposits, increases in transfer amount limit, and account holder profile changes.

About Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation was founded in April 2001 with the merger of Sakura Bank and Sumitomo Bank. In December 2002, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group was founded as a bank holding company and became a wholly owned subsidiary of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group. Today SMBC is the second largest bank in Japan by assets and serves customers through more than 444 locations and over 22,000 employees.