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September 5, 2014

Barclays turns to biometric scanning for the fight against online fraud

No need to remember your PIN with Hitachi’s VeinID technology.

By Vinod

The age of using passwords to log into your online banking account may soon be over thanks to a new biometric scanner from Barclays which it hopes will provide its corporate banking clients with tougher security measures that ever before.

The bank has teamed up with Hitachi to launch the Barclays Biometric Reader, a desktop device using the latter’s Finger Vein authentication technology, known as VeinID, to scan the blood flow patterns in a user’s finger in order to approve their identity.

The technology is already widely used in the US and Japan for certain ATM machines and in place of typical log-ins, but Barclays will be the first UK bank to use VeinID when the device are rolled out next year to its 30,000 large corporate clients.

"Biometrics is the way to go in the future – there’s no doubt about that," Ashok Vaswani, CEO of Barclays personal and corporate banking, told media at the reader’s unveiling.

"It’s so simple that nothing really happens."

The system uses near-infrared light to create a unique finger vein profile of the user, meaning matching and identification is extremely accurate. Barclays and Hitachi, the world leader in vascular technologies, say that unlike other forms of biometrics, which can be artificially duplicated, finger veins are internal structures that require organic support, meaning in theory that it should be very difficult to forge.

User data is then stored on a SIM card inside the reader, which plugs into a computer’s USB port, with any future login attempts being matched against this data to prevent fraudulent access. Barclays does not keep the data, which stays secure on the personalised SIM sent out to customers when they receive the device.

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The bank says that VeinID provides far more in-depth security than traditional biometric methods such as fingerprint scanning, which can be found in the iPhone 5S, with the new system able to stand up to one million false entry attempts.

"This solution is at the leading edge of innovation and is in direct response to client concerns about the threat of online fraud while making our customers’ lives easier through its convenience," said Vaswani added.

The rollout is part of Barclays’ ongoing Digital Agenda program, which also last year saw the bank introduce voice biometrics for its Barclays Wealth customers to identify themselves on phone calls, removing the need for passwords or security questions.

Biometric scanning is becoming widespread as companies look to add an extra level of security of their services. Earlier this week, Chinese ecommerce titan Alibaba announced that its AliPay payments service would utilise the fingerprint scanner in Huawei’s new Mate 7 device to authenticate purchases made on the site.


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