Biometrics: The Next Step Forward in ATM Security
Contributing Editor: ATMmarketplace.com
What if you didn't have to remember a PIN or worry about someone skimming your card every time you went to use an ATM?
Passwords are easy to forget, and they can be a pain to recover, especially if you are in a hurry. The idea behind biometrics is that they only rely on some measure of your body, which is unique to each person. If implemented correctly, you don't need a password or even a smart card to access cash.
Biometrics promise a smoother customer experience and reductions in fraud. The technology is big business, too. The biometric market is expected to be worth $32.7 billion by 2022.
What follows are the basic types of biometrics that are being used or piloted on ATMs today and a few of their drawbacks.
Most people are already familiar with fingerprint sensors. When Apple first introduced Touch ID on the iPhone 5S in 2013, it paved the way for other businesses to explore biometrics as a solution to widespread security issues. For Apple, the simplicity of Touch ID was critical to Apple Pay's success.
The problem with fingerprints is they can be faked. For years, researchers have shown that fingerprint sensors can be fooled sometimes using a lifted print or a person's digitized fingerprint data. And last year, researchers from New York University used a neural network to create synthetic fingerprints that have the same ridges visible when rolling an ink-covered fingertip on paper.
Another problem is that after years of certain types of manual labor, some fingerprints can be hard to distinguish. The technology also requires you to physically touch the scanner, which brings up hygiene issues.
Finger, palm vein readers
Fortunately, there is another way to read fingers that includes reading the veins in the fingers. You can also read palms this way.
A vein scanner illuminates the finger or palm with near-infrared light, which is absorbed by the hemoglobin in the veins to capture a unique profile of an individual. This method of capturing fingerprints is thought to be more secure, because it uses a "liveness" detector to make sure the finger — or palm — is real.
Most Japanese ATMs already use some type of fingerprint reader, finger-vein or palm-vein reader, biometric security expert Douglas Russell, director of DFR Risk Management, told Infosecurity Magazine.
In 2014, Poland became the first country in Europe to introduce a network of "finger vein ID" cash machines, with 2,000 of the new ATMs opening in bank branches and supermarkets across the country, backed by a campaign that promised "cash within your finger."
Two years later, to combat ATM fraud, Fiserv introduced its Verifast palm authentication reader based on Fujitsu's PalmSecure palm-vein technology. And early this year, Fiserv introduced what it's calling a "super ATM" that integrates with the solution.