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Ontario Technoblog

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Privacy and Technology

It's no surprise that the United States is not leading the world in the adoption of biometric technologies at banks - we Americans just got this privacy thang in our heads - but guess which country is leading? Surprise:

Colombia is one of the few places in the world where banks are using fingerprint biometrics, which verify people's identities based on their unique physical characteristics.

Scanning fingerprints or irises to verify an ATM customer's identity has yet to penetrate the U.S. banking market because of concerns about expense and privacy....

However, companies that make automated teller machines have found budding markets for the fingerprint technology in South America, where citizens already are accustomed to the use of fingerprints for general identification, such as ID cards they carry.

Diebold Inc. of North Canton, Ohio, has supplied fingerprint-capable ATMs to a bank in Chile that is using them in a pilot project. Last year Dayton, Ohio-based NCR Corp. installed 400 of them in Colombia.

BanCafe, Colombia's fifth-largest bank, bought the ATMs at the end of 2002 for added security for coffee growers and to get them to open accounts. The growers wouldn't need to carry ATM cards, which can be a lure for thieves.

Ricardo Prieto, who was vice president for system operations at BanCafe when the system was installed, said that at first ATMs failed to recognize fingerprints on the well-worn hands of some elderly customers and laborers such as construction workers.

He said the ATM imaging was improved, and the number of customers whose fingerprints couldn't be read fell from 30 percent to 8 percent.

About 230,000 of BanCafe's 1 million customers registered to use the fingerprint ATMs, which account for about 15 percent of the bank's total transactions....

About 350 banks in North America are using Diebold's hand geometry systems to clear customers into vaults so they can open their safe-deposit boxes. At Zions First National Bank in Salt Lake City and South Carolina Federal Credit Union, users place their hands on a screen, which reads the width of the palm, length of the fingers and other points of the hand.

Last year, Suruga Bank Ltd. in Japan began using ATMs that allow customers to access their accounts by holding their palms up to machines that read the pattern of blood vessels....

Systems that scan the iris of the eye are being used at airports in Canada and the Netherlands to check passengers going through customs and at border points in the United Arab Emirates to identify people trying to enter the country with fake work visas. Biometrics are also being used in U.S. airports as part of the "Registered Traveler" program for prescreened flyers....

Connie Steele doesn't believe the technology would add that much more security to the card-and-PIN system.

"If I'm a thief and I've got the card, I still don't have your PIN number, so how could they use it?" said Steele, 57, of West Milton, Ohio....

1 Comments:

Anonymous Ignat said...

I can see why US has not welcomed biometric ATMs just yet. There are so many people that are just too scared that their fingerprints are stolen. But think how easier could be without PINs to remember or stuffing you wallet with credit cards...

I wrote an article on this for ScienceNews Daily. You might be interested in checking it out along with other sci/tech related news.

Cheers

17:28  

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