A Penny For Your Thoughts

Back in the day, when I was a kid, credit cards and ATMs were unheard of. OK, I’ve dated myself somewhat, but back then, to get your money from the bank, you actually had to go inside and fill out a withdrawal form.

Things change quickly, don’t they?

Along came credit cards, ATMs and the debit card. No interaction with the banker, and today I find out deposits can actually happen over my iPhone.

Now, out of Poland, BPS Bank says it will be the first to launch a biometric ATM, allowing customers the possibility to withdraw cash with the touch of a fingertip. The digit-scanning machine will be introduced in Warsaw, and relies on finger vein technology, developed by Hitachi.

Here’s how it works. An infrared light is passed through the finger, which will detect a unique pattern of micro-veins. That image is matched up with a pre-registered profile to verify that person’s identity. Hitachi officials say it’s much more reliable than using fingerprints. It’s also considered as reliable as iris scanning, which boasts a one in a million false acceptance rate.

Because the veins are beneath the surface of the skin, finger veins are impossible to replicate, do not leave a trace and cannot be reproduced.

BPS plans to install a biometric ATM at every branch by the end of the year.

While it is a first for Europe, other parts of the world have already embraced the technology. In Japan, where banks are liable for withdrawals by criminals using stolen or counterfeit bank cards, the technology is widely accepted and used by more than 15 million customers.

Why Poland? Well, it’s simply one of the most proactive countries in Europe addressing the challenges of the information age, and has one of the fastest-growing IT sectors in the region.

I like the idea of getting my fingers on some cash the easy way, and like the plan that will reduce the number of cards I would have to carry to get that cash. Let’s keep an eye on the developments of biometric banking.

About the Author

Ralph C. Jensen is editor-in-chief of Security Today magazine.

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