Finger-vein scanners are already in use in Poland

Turkish bank turns to biometrics for customer ID

Hitachi and Turkish bank Isbank have rolled out Europe’s largest network of biometric finger-vein scanners.

Around 3,400 scanners have been installed in cash machines (ATMs) and branches so customers can easily and securely confirm their identity when withdrawing cash or using other bank services.

Working with system integrator MIG International, Isbank has so far put in around 2,400 finger-vein scanners in ATMs and 1,000 units in branches across its network in Turkey.

Biometric banking is commonplace in Japan, where more than 75,000 finger-vein based ATMs have been put in place since 2006. While not widespread in Europe, the Turkish installation follows the Polish banking sector’s adoption of the technology in 2009.

Finger-vein authentication technology uses data derived from the pattern of veins within a finger to verify identity. The scanners work by shining light through the finger using near infrared LEDs and capturing the image using a CCD camera.

Haemoglobin absorbs the red light so the veins stand out in a dark pattern that is unique to the individual. The image is processed to create a personal template, using a one-way algorithm so it is impossible to recreate the image from the data set.

When customers register with the system their template is encrypted and securely stored in a central database. Then, whenever they want to use an ATM they either insert their card or type in their account number and scan their finger. The system compares the captured data with what was stored, to confirm that the person is the genuine account-holder.

Peter Jones, business manager for security solutions at Hitachi Europe, says banks can use this strong authentication to offer facilities such as higher limits on daily withdrawals or higher single withdrawals.

The option of cardless transactions is also attractive, Jones told E&T. “It’s not about getting rid of cards, but giving options to people,” he said, “but banks will be looking to the future. Managing cards – renewal, distribution, replacements – is quite expensive to run, so they’ll be looking at what we’re moving towards in terms of payment systems.”

Most of Hitachi’s previous experience with finger-vein technology has been with very large projects in Japan, so the Polish project provided some valuable lessons for Isbank’s implementation – “practical things like how to set up a registration environment, and teaching people how to use the system,” Jones explained, as well as understanding the banking IT systems and networks used in Europe.

Another important difference is that most European ATMs are outdoors, whereas almost all those in Japan are inside buildings. That has called for adaptations ranging from sunlight-readable screens to vandal-proofing.

“We learned and developed our activities in Poland, which meant we could make a relatively smooth implementation when it came to this large project in Turkey,” Jones concluded.

Isbank is planning to expand the ‘Biyokimlik’ (Bio-identity) service to create the largest biometric POS (point-of-sale) network in the world. Currently biometric POS devices using finger vein scanners are being tested in the field with several merchants.

The technology can also be used in many other applications, including: car entry, PC login, door access systems, retail payment and digital signatures.

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