Biometric ATMs for Rural India

Monday, March 12, 2007

To reach the rural masses, banks are going all out in providing a user-friendly banking experience. To boost micro financing initiatives, banks are deploying biometric solutions with ATMs. Establishing the identity of a rural depositor through biometrics makes it possible for illiterate or barely literate folks to become part of the banking user community. In recent years the importance of biometrics has grown tremendously with an increasing demand of security in accordance of unique identification of individuals. Its use for identification in applications other than policing is on the rise. In view of the rapidly increasing applications, the scope of biometrics is also increasing, be it identification via face, voice, retina or iris. Fingerprinting, however, has the advantage of being a familiar concept worldwide.

In the retail payments arena, developments in biometric technology have made their presence felt in the pervasiveness of self service devices including Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and Point of Service (POS) machines. Some of the new generation POS terminals are biometric enabled with smart card readers, allowing thumb-print based authentication. Some Indian banks have started implementing biometric applications in retail branch applications for officer authentication. Elsewhere in the world, efforts are on enabling payments through kiosks based on fingerprints (non-card based). ATM enhancements with biometric support envisaged by vendors eliminate the need for PIN entry, and authenticate customer transactions by thumb-impressions. A simplified menu on ATMs coupled with possible audio guidance in local language enable easy use for rural masses. So far bank ATMs are dependent on PIN verification. The fingerprint authentication method is non-PIN based, and this requires enhancements to the standard Switch environment.

Securing transactions with fingerprints

With the development of biometric solutions for the ATMs there is no need to remember PIN numbers. Software vendors are coming up with finger print solutions for the rural masses. Chennai based Financial Software and Systems (FSS) has recently launched its Biometric ATM Interface Solution (BAIS) that enables connectivity of ATMs with biometric support to Electronic Financial Transaction (EFT) switches. Elaborating on the working of the biometric solutions, G. P. Shekar, Head – Consulting Practice, Financial Software and Systems (P) Ltd. says, “Customers opting for biometric authentication can visit a nearby kiosk or ATMs or bank, where his finger-print data would be scanned into a special PC with a finger-print scanner and the scanned fingerprint is then stored in an encrypted form in a central server. When a customer inserts (or swipes) his card in a biometric enabled ATM, he is prompted to set his finger in the fingerprint scanner. The transaction along with customer’s biometric information is passed on to the switch. The switch verifies the fingerprint with the server, and if successful, requests the banking application to authorise the transaction.” Based on the result, the Switch instructs the ATM to complete the transaction. FSS’ BAIS solution meets this requirement, by performing requisite message translations as well as confirming authorisation.

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(Thanks to Kevin Jones of Goodcap for the reference)

Source: Express Computer (link opens in a new window)