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Biometrics In Banking

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The experts have been saying for several years that biometrics are a technological development that may affect industry operations the most profoundly in the new millennium. Recent developments show how it may happen.

Fingerprint ID on PC
Identix Inc. and SCM Microsystems announced a fingerprint reader system developed for portable personal computers.

The device is inserted into one of the computer's card slots. When you press the side of the device, a reader slides out. You then place a finger on a small optical sensor, and your fingerprint is matched to previously recorded fingerprints to gain access to information on that particular computer. The device became available in December.

Verification of Electronic Signatures
A card development company recently demonstrated how fingerprinting could be used to verify digital signatures so that signature verification could occur at the location of the reading, instead of at an outside location.

Oberthur Card Systems developed a system whereby a card that already has a customer's digital signature is inserted into a smart card reader. The user swipes a finger over a biometric sensor for the card to be "unlocked." The system can be used to verify signatures for sending data over the Internet and for electronic delivery of payment.

Although both digital signatures and fingerprinting devices have been around for several years, this is the first time the matching occurs on the actual card instead of sending information to an external device for authenticating.

Fingerprinting Through the Mouse
An online banking institution will be offering its customers fingerprint verification through a mouse. (No, we don't mean a small, squeaky fellow will be checking our hands; we're talking about the device that runs most computer programs these days.)

SecuGen Corporation and SAFELINK Corporation developed the mouse for ING Direct Canada, the online bank. The system will identify the bank's customers through a high-resolution fingerprint recognition system that fits into a regular-size mouse. The bank will offer the mouse to its banking customers so that they can securely bank over the Internet. Special software will pass client authentication requests made using the mouse via a secure Internet link to the bank's Web server, where a centralized fingerprint template database will be housed. It will insure only the right fingerprint can access.

"Eyeing" Products
A music distribution company that operates through a Web site ( and Cash Technologies, Inc. (Cash Tech) have launched a pilot program whereby customers can use their regular bank automated teller machine card and Sensar's iris recognition system to securely purchase products over the Internet. The pilot participants will enroll in the program at an iris-enabled ATM supplied by Diebold, Inc. After enrollment, they can use an inexpensive camera at their computers, which will photograph the iris and send the image to the MP3, which will in turn pass information to Cash Tech. Cash Tech will authenticate the customer and process the transaction through the ATM networks. The companies say the process takes no more time than an ATM transaction.

The "Eyes" Have It
Positive identification, that is.

In a development that directly affects the front line, Sensar has teamed up with More, Inc., a provider of Windows-based teller systems, to add instant identification of customers at teller windows. The customer will not have to show identification cards. Tellers will not have to match picture identifications and signatures. A customer simply walks up to the teller line and looks into an iris identification device to prove identity. The identification is fool proof and positive.

Copyright © 2000 Bankers' Hotline. Originally appeared in Bankers' Hotline, Vol. 9, No. 12, 1/00

First published on 01/01/2000

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