Barclays to introduce biometric finger vein scanning

5 September 2014
By Edd Gent
Mobile version
Share |
Barclay's Michael Mueller demonstrates the Barclays Biometric Reader

Barclay's Michael Mueller demonstrates the Barclays Biometric Reader

Biometric finger vein scanning technology for authenticating online banking transactions will be available to Barclays’ corporate customers from next year.

In a move to combat fraud the bank has combined Japanese firm Hitachi’s VeinID finger vein authentication technology with a digital signature system to create the Barclays Biometric Reader, which allows customers to log on to online bank accounts and authorise payments without the need for PIN, passwords or authentication codes.

The device is connected to a PC via USB cable and uses infrared light to capture an image of the veins of the index finger before comparing this to the registered user’s unique pattern of blood vessels, which is stored on a smart card similar to the chip found on a chip and PIN card.

If the images match an encrypted authorisation code is transmitted to the connected PC to validate the transaction. According to the bank, as an internal structure, a finger vein pattern is nearly impossible to fake unlike other biometric identifiers such as finger prints, which can be forged.

Speaking at a press briefing at Barclays’ London headquarters Ashok Vaswani, CEO of Barclays personal and corporate banking, was also keen to stress that a severed finger would not be able to pass the test as the blood quickly drains out of the veins rendering them invisible to the infrared light.

“Finger veins have been demonstrated to be the most distinguishing feature of any person so it gives the highest level of security,” he added. “If it had any known issues we would never ask our clients to go down that path. The security in finger vein scanning is about the highest you can get and that’s why we feel so confident in it.”

The launch of the biometric reader follows on from the bank’s introduction of voice biometrics for Barclays Wealth customers to identify them on phone calls, which Vaswani says has been a “phenomenal” success.

Hitachi’s VeinID technology is already used by banks for password replacement, single sign on and ATM machines in Japan, North America and Europe and Barclays says there is potential for it to be introduced more widely in UK branches.

“Typically when you upgrade security you increase complexity,” said Michael Mueller, head of international cash management for Barclays Corporate.

“It’s so simple it doesn’t wow anyone, it’s just a very simple and also intuitive process for the customer. I think it opens up a whole range of opportunities for this, but also beyond this, and that is why we are so excited about using biometrics.”

Mueller also suggested that while the company considered that finger print scanning technology, now available on several smartphones, was not secure enough for corporate banking it could have a role in personal banking in the future where security requirements are not so stringent.

While the readers themselves can be used by several people, each registered user will receive their own smart card, which contains private keys and security certificates based on industry standard Public Key Infrastructures (PKI) digital signature systems alongside their finger vein data – meaning Barclays would not hold any biometric information about their customers.

Advanced algorithms mean pattern matching happens in just seconds and Barclays claims a false acceptance rate – the likelihood that someone is falsely recognised as someone else – of one in a million, which it says is one of the very lowest among biometric technologies.

The false rejection rate – where the machine fails to recognise the right user’s stored pattern and rejects them – is one in ten thousand.

Hitachi were also keen to stress that the device is secure from any attempts to extract information from the smart card should it be lost or stolen as it has been tested to Evaluation Assurance Level 6 – the industry standard for banking security technology.

Ben Edgington, senior manager for engineering and product management, said: “The amount of reverse engineering needed to get any data off the smart card in the device, that level would be phenomenal.”

The biometric reader will be an optional service for Barclays corporate banking customers and will become available from 2015.

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1607

"As the dust settles after the referendum result, we consider what happens next. We also look forward to an international summer of sport."

E&T jobs

  • Protection and Control Engineer

    SSE
    • Glasgow, Perth, Inverness or Aberdeen
    • £36,000 - £54,000 Plus Car and Bonus

    To ensure that the network continues to run effectively, we are looking to recruit a Protection and Control Engineer to join our existing teams....

    • Recruiter: SSE

    Apply for this job

  • Control Systems Engineer

    United Utilities
    • Lancaster, Lancashire
    • Up to £33415 + Comprehensive Benefits

    Provide ICA maintenance and engineering support to the Water & Wastewater Production

    • Recruiter: United Utilities

    Apply for this job

  • Principal Systems Engineer

    BAE Systems
    • England, Surrey, Frimley / Dorset, England, Weymouth
    • Competitive package

    Would you like to be involved in designing, developing, and delivering cutting edge combat systems for the world's most advanced military submarines? BAE Systems is recruiting Principal Systems Engineers

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Gas Terminal Engineer

    National Grid
    • Aberdeenshire, Scotland
    • £41000 - £49000 per year

    Gas Terminal Engineer (Oil/Gas/Petrochemical)- St. Fergus, Scotland - National GridSalary: £41-49k depending on experience, plus excellent benefits including: Performance Bonus, a generous pension scheme, flexible benefits, company car We currently have a

    • Recruiter: National Grid

    Apply for this job

  • Associate Network Opportunities

    Premium job

    Smarter Grid Solutions
    • Flexible but may need to spend time in Glasgow, London or New York offices

    We are always keen to work with relevant industry professionals on an associate basis.

    • Recruiter: Smarter Grid Solutions

    Apply for this job

  • Electronics & Control Systems Engineer

    Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd
    • Bristol, Burton, Glasgow, Plymouth, Warrington
    • £ Competitive + Benefits

    We are seeking talented Electronics Engineers at all career levels.

    • Recruiter: Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd

    Apply for this job

  • Control and Instrumentation Engineers

    Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd
    • Bristol, Burton, Glasgow, Gloucester
    • £ Competitive + Benefits

    Frazer-Nash is currently embarking on a period of significant growth of our electrical, electronics, control and instrumentation capability.

    • Recruiter: Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd

    Apply for this job

  • Engineering Officer

    Royal Air Force
    • Nationwide
    • £30k pay after initial training + £10k Golden Hello

    Responsible for the optimum performance of all RAF technology, and specialise in either Aerosystems or Communications Electronics.

    • Recruiter: Royal Air Force

    Apply for this job

  • Junior Automation Engineer

    GSK
    • Worthing, West Sussex

    Your job will directly contribute to the lives of patients receiving our products

    • Recruiter: GSK

    Apply for this job

  • E & I Craftspersons

    SGN
    • South East England

    An opportunity has arisen to recruit a number of experienced Electrical and Instrumentation Craftsperson’s....

    • Recruiter: SGN

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶

Subscribe

Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T