Purpose ‐ To identify and discuss the issues and success factors surrounding biometrics, especially in the context of user authentication and controls in the banking sector, using a case study. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The literature survey and analysis of the security models of the present information systems and biometric technologies in the banking sector provide the theoretical and practical background for this work. The impact of adopting biometric solutions in banks was analysed by considering the various issues and challenges from technological, managerial, social and ethical angles. These explorations led to identifying the success factors that serve as possible guidelines for a viable implementation of a biometric-enabled authentication system in banking organisations, in particular for a major bank in New Zealand. Findings ‐ As the level of security breaches and transaction frauds increase day by day, the need for highly secure identification and personal verification information systems is becoming extremely important especially in the banking and finance sector. Biometric technology appeals to many banking organisations as a near perfect solution to such security threats. Though biometric technology has gained traction in areas like healthcare and criminology, its application in banking security is still in its infancy. Due to the close association of biometrics to human, physical and behavioural aspects, such technologies pose a multitude of social, ethical and managerial challenges. The key success factors proposed through the case study served as a guideline for a biometric-enabled security project called Bio-Sec, which is envisaged in a large banking organisation in New Zealand. This pilot study reveals that more than coping with the technology issues of gelling biometrics into the existing information systems, formulating a viable security plan that addresses user privacy fears, human tolerance levels, organisational change and legal issues is of prime importance. Originality/value ‐ Though biometric systems are successfully adopted in areas such as immigration control and criminology, there is a paucity of their implementation and research pertaining to banking environments. Not all banks venture into biometric solutions to enhance their security systems due to their socio-technological issues. This paper fulfils the need for a guideline to identify the various issues and success factors for a viable biometric implementation in a bank's access control system. This work is only a starting point for academics to conduct more research in the application of biometrics in the various facets of banking businesses.