World first: finger-scanning removes need for card at ATM

Thursday 18 November 2004 14:25 CET | News

Colombian Bancafe Bank, is incorporating fingerprint scanning across its entire automated teller machine (ATM) network.

These ATMs do not require customers to use a card in order to initiate a transaction. Instead, customers simply place their finger on a reader at the ATM, enter an ID number and access their cash. The easy-to-use ATMs have already enabled Bancafe to reach new customers, such as the countrys small coffee growers who were previously reluctant to open a bank account. Bancafe has worked with the Colombian Coffee Federation, the co-operative that buys and sells all the country’s coffee, to install biometric ATMs in rural towns where it has offices in order to persuade coffee growers to open bank accounts. When the growers come to town to sell their beans, payment is electronically transferred to their bank account and they can access their money in small amounts whenever they want by simply scanning their finger into an ATM. This eliminates the need for the coffee growers to carry large amounts of cash and makes them less vulnerable to theft as they travel the mountain roads back to their villages. The ATMs still retain the card and PIN option, enabling the bank’s existing customers to move over to finger scanning when desired. Some 50 percent of Bancafe’s customers have signed up for the new technology and the bank expects this figure to grow as the biometric interface is rolled out across its entire network of 486 ATMs. In order to implement the finger-scanning solution, the bank needed to create a register of its customers’ fingerprints. Customers enroll at the branch by putting their finger on a reader. The image is then digitized and stored on a central database. When customers use the ATM, their fingerprint is compared to the centrally-stored image to verify their identity and authorize the transaction. One option for future features is for the payment of pensions via the ATMs. The bank is talking to the government about this feature. Currently, few pensioners operate a bank account and the banks collectively pay out $1 billion in pension payments over the counter. This means pensioners have to wait in line for hours on specific dates. Using the Bancafe ATMs, pensioners could access their cash at a time that suits them at the touch of a finger.

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Categories: Payments & Commerce | Payments General
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce