Biometric ATM Tech to take SA by storm

By Staff Writer
With the ever growing issue of ATM and bank related fraud, banking in South Africa is constantly looking for ways in which to improve the consumers banking experience to one that is safer and more convenient. This was seen in Visa’s announcement to rollout their biometric ATM tech in South Africa earlier this year.

The new first-of-its-kind technology is designed to recognise a person’s fingerprints, palms, iris, voice and facial features as specifications to perform transactions.

The global company was said to be testing its new system throughout the country, across a limited number of ATMs, this made possible through a partnership with local banking giant Absa.

The project, which is still in pilot phase, will be rolled out in the United States first and then later Visa is said to assess the implementation in other countries, explained Visa.

“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,” saidNick Perkins, divisional director of Bytes IDM.

Will the new technology eliminate the use of the PIN?
According to Perkins, the new system will not serve to do away with the pin but will act as a primary source of verification.

“There is no intention for Biometric authentication to completely replace pin numbers, but rather to be used as a mechanism of multi-factor authentication to further secure sensitive transactions and interactions in order to combat identify theft and reduce fraud,” added a spokesperson from Nedbank.

Implementation in South Africa
While the technology and implementation sounds to be a move in the right direction, according to a Fin24 article, South Africans would need some time to warm to the idea, as the notion was that criminals would find a way to crook the system.

Nedbank, however, has come forward in dispelling all such fears in stating that “the use of Biometric authentication has opened up a new avenue in combatting identity theft and fraud which can result in significant losses for both consumers and financial institutions. As such, the introduction of biometric authentication initiatives will therefore go a long way in protecting our clients and reducing fraud.”

When asked if they were buying into the system, Nedbank responded by saying: “Nedbank has developed an integrated biometric solution initially allowing it to be used for non-cash service related transactions and account opening. This will be later extended to all transactions in the branch environment. Through these learnings, Nedbank is assessing how this new finger technology will complement its current suite of offerings including the Trusteer Rapport.”

First National Bank (FNB) through spokesperson, Abdul - Aziz Cassim, head of self service delivery, however, said that they “will not be launching biometric ATM’s at this stage.”

Perkins further added that within the next two years South Africans could expect market ATMS to adopt this tech, and with that retail outlets too.

Absa had not responded to request for comment at the time of publication.

Standard Bank was unable to provide comment. 

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