Fingerprint ATMs 'won't eradicate' PIN codes

2015-11-20 12:04 - Duncan Alfreds, Fin24
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ATM. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

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Cape Town – Despite the imminent rollout of biometric ATMs, the traditional PIN will not go away, says an industry insider.

“The PIN won’t go away; the fingerprint will be a primary authentication mechanism,” Nick Perkins, divisional director of Bytes IDM, told Fin24 about ATM biometrics.

In South Africa, banks are moving closer toward adopting biometrics technology as a standard. Absa and Visa announced in September that they are piloting biometric ATMs in South Africa.

The technology has been described as a 'first-of-its kind technology framework' designed to work with the EMV (Europay, MasterCard, Visa) chip industry standard.

Perkins said that biometrics do offer advantages over the traditional PIN.

“The benefits of a biometric is that it’s always with you – you can’t leave it at home – you don’t need to change it every month and it’s something that’s unique to that individual so it’s not something that can be taken and used by somebody else.”

Fraud fight

However, hacker groups have demonstrated that fingerprint scanners can be fooled by transposing fingerprints on to silicon.

Perkins said that new technologies employed by financial institutions have been designed to counter biometrics fraud.

“There’s new technology coming into the fingerprint readers now – specifically something called liveness detection which is where the fingerprint sensor detects whether the finger is a live, living finger to eradicate other materials being used for fingerprinting.

“The other area is something called spoof detection. It’s almost like antivirus if you think about it like that. They look for certain material characteristics of the fingerprint being captured to determine whether it’s a genuine live finger or it’s a fake finger. There’s a scoring system that’s built into the technology that captures that,” he said.

Perkins further commented on Absa and Visa's biometric ATM pilot in South Africa.

READ: Visa pilots biometric ATM tech in SA

“I would guess that over the next three to six months that pilot will be rolled out and concluded and then it will become available for the banks to implement - so I would say within the next two years you’re going to see ATMs in the market with biometrics,” Perkins said.

He added that once ATMs were equipped with fingerprint readers, systems would be expanded to retail outlets.

“Gradually, all those credit card machines that are used in restaurants and shops are all provided by the banks will be replaced by devices that have a fingerprint reader because they want to make their customer’s experience when using a card as secure as possible.”

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