Fingerprint ATMs 'will lead to more crime'

Fingerprint reader with 'liveness' detection. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
Fingerprint reader with 'liveness' detection. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Cape Town – South Africans may need some time to warm up to fingerprint ATMs, judging from the response by Fin24 users.

Most Fin24 users who responded to a story about financial institutions rolling out biometric-enabled ATMs reacted with scepticism, saying that criminals would find a way to exploit the technology.

READ: Fingerprint ATMs won't eradicate PIN codes

“So now we lose our fingers when they chop them off to steal money at the ATM,” wrote Fin24 user Fred, expressing the view that digits may become a criminal target.

“No. I would be concerned that someone would cut off my hand after rendering me unconscious to obtain my fingerprint. This will not work in South Africa,” echoed Fin24 user Malcolm.

Clive worried about the impact on violent crime.

“We live in a violent country. A good idea in principle, but this will only encourage robberies with the cardholder being held hostage.”

Nick Perkins, divisional director of Bytes IDM, told Fin24 that new technologies being employed include the ability to detect whether a finger is live and may also match it with additional data such the fingerprints on the new smart ID card.

“With an ATM, you’re by yourself so it’s an unattended interaction. So the opportunity for people to test the system at 02:00 in the morning at a petrol station is rife. You need the system to be able to detect whether it’s a real live finger or if something’s wrong,” he said.

For Fin24 user Clinton, using a fingerprint is old technology.

“Truly I would not. Biometric systems are everywhere and have been around a long time. One could say long enough to find a way around security. The idea is good, yes, but a fingerprint in 2015 is very basic. If it’s something like an iris scanner then maybe, but that would also be copied in time.”

READ: Four tech tools to replace your wallet

Fin24 user Roger indicated that he would accept fingerprint reader ATMs as long as the technology is an evolutionary process.

“Nothing in life is fool-proof, we have pin and chip and that is not fool-proof, so it is safe to say that we have got to keep moving in the direction of the absolute.”

Some people expressed their frustration with using fingerprints for authentication.

“Not sure about trust being an issue, but I work with my hands and various institutions battle to get a good print off my digits. How are they going to get around that?” wrote Fin24 user Grant.

“I had fingerprint security on my laptop. What a nuisance! So often I struggled and struggled to get access to my own data. So in the end I threw it off and went back to the good old-fashioned password. What a relief!” said a Fin24 user called Pmostert.

Dingaan said that more than one finger is better.

“I would like to be able to use two fingers - one after the other.”

Despite the opposition to the technology, a few users expressed support for the idea.

“Yes, this is a great initiative by the banks,” said Fin24 user Sira.

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