Banking Goes Bond, James Bond

Sep 8, 2014


 By Lyndsey Hall

A High Street Bank has decided to up security in its branches by introducing “finger vein recognition”. Business customers in some branches of Barclays will be asked to insert their finger into a tennis ball sized machine that connects to a computer’s USB port, and uses near-infrared light to identify the customer’s vein pattern.


This system is more secure than fingerprint recognition, as it requires a living finger in order to be accepted, reducing the risk of fraud. The Bank is only offering the service to business customers at this time, for a fee, but intends to roll it out to all customers in the future. Businesses can register several staff members’ finger scans, allowing one person to make a payment, and another to approve it; in the same way that some business accounts require two signatures.


The new identification technique was designed by Hitachi, and is already in use in Japan and Poland, allowing customers to withdraw money from cash machines without needing a bank card or PIN number.


“For corporate clients who do a lot of large transactions, this makes a lot of sense.” Ashok Vaswani, Barclays Head of Personal and Corporate Banking


The machine is quite cumbersome and is not yet compatible with mobile banking, but a version will be developed for retail banking once the technology reduces in price, and eventually a machine may be designed that is small enough and cheap enough for home use.


The technology has been in development for 15 years: the light is partially absorbed by haemoglobin passing through the veins, allowing the vein pattern to be mapped. There are some concerns that customers’ biometric information will be used by fraudsters or even the government, however Barclays insist that the information will be stored on a micro chip inside the device in an encrypted format, and will be completely secure.

What do you think about the latest method of identification? Will you be taking up Barclays’ offer of “finger vein recognition” for your business accounts? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments.

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