Is It The End Of Chip & PIN?
Brazil’s Bradesco bank has been allowing its clients to make cash withdrawals at ATMs, without the need of a card, since October 2012. The bank has biometric sensors at 90% of its cash machines and half of its clients have signed up for their biometric authentication service.
In Poland there is a similar scenario. In September 2012, Bank BPH introduced finger-vein biometric technology in its branches to authenticate customers. The Finger Vein authentication technology was developed by Hitachi, and uses infrared light to capture the unique pattern of veins in a person’s finger. This pattern is stored as a template and used to verify the person’s identity on the next occasion they use the device. This technology is impossible to counterfeit, contactless, discreet and non-invasive.
Recently, Hitachi’s Finger Vein authentication solutions were adopted by Is Bankasi A.S., the largest Turkish commercial bank, mainly as its ATM security, as well as being collaborated with the BT Group, a leading communications services provider to use Hitachi’s Finger Vein authentication technology for identification management of financial institutions.
In the UK, the University of Southampton is testing similar technology. The country is very badly affected by card fraud. The BBC reports that just in the first six months of 2012, card fraud totaled £185m. Police representatives in the country, spoke to the news service about the flaws in the chip & PIN authentication process. "Wherever you've got an interface between money and the customer you've got an opportunity that criminals can exploit," said DCI Dave Carter at the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU) of the Metropolitan Police. Criminals can easily bypass the system by installing hidden digital cameras or using metal loops or false sleeves to recover the cards.
However, not all are convinced by the need of biometric authentication. In itself, chip and pin technology is not that bad, says computer security expert Brian Krebs in the US. "The chip and pin solution is pretty good. It's not perfect, but a big part of security is about making it more expensive for the bad guys," he said speaking to the BBC.
In most European countries biometric authentication for payments is still a long way off. But with card fraud continuing, despite the widespread use of chip & PIN and European countries like Poland vouching for the technology, it could be closer than expected. At the end of last year, in France, thousands of customers saw biometric payments come true at their local supermarket when Natural Security trialed their authentication system.