Say goodbye to PIN card ATMs

2014-02-06 14:00
ATM. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

ATM. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - When the first Standard Bank ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) hit South Africa in 1981, the technology fundamentally changed banking in that it allowed customers to access their accounts after banking hours.

SA is soon to undergo another shift in ATMs as a company plans to introduce machines that don't require a card with a PIN (Personal Identification Number) to draw cash.

Instead, the technology will rely on a fingerprint reader to verify the identity of a banking customer and permit access to an account.

The use of biometrics as a method of identity is far superior to a PIN, says Lumidigm, the company developing the technology for SA.

"There's absolutely no comparison in security between a PIN - something you know - and a biometric - something you are. A PIN can be compromised, forgotten, or dumbed down so far that it is easily guessable. You never forget your finger, and only you can use your finger! What could be more secure or convenient?" Mark Shermetaro, Lumidigm CEO told News24.

Worried about fingers? Read more here

The technology has seen some success in Brazil and in Kenya, the technology is used alongside the PIN card as a second form of authentication to cut down on bank fraud.

In the US, Bank of America is also looking at the introduction of biometric ATMs, though it is expected that rollout is some years away.

Shermetaro hinted that South Africans may begin seeing fingerprint reading ATMs in the near future.

"Lumidigm first deployed sensors in South Africa in 2008! But we're seeing a lot of interest in biometrics as a stronger form of authentication recently and our fingerprint sensors will become familiar to many more South African citizens very soon."

Unlike PINs, criminals will have great difficulty in faking a fingerprint to access someone's bank account.

"A biometric is you and only you can use it. Lumidigm employs sophisticated algorithms for fake-finger detection, also called liveness detection or spoof detection, with our sensors to prevent the fraudulent use of a biometric. And this protection (algorithms) can be updated as new threats emerge," said Shermetaro.

He said that it is likely that some banks may be able to retrofit existing ATMs while others may yet design new ATMs with the technology in place.

"Some banks obviously schedule complete upgrades to update and improve the customer experience and they typically include biometrics at that time. However, waiting for a scheduled upgrade is not always necessary in order to incorporate biometrics into ATMs."

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