Finger tech points to easier, more secure access to ATMs

Top News | Tracy Hu 31 Jan 2018

Bank card holders who have a hard time remembering their passwords can now withdraw cash through finger-vein authentication without inputting a code.

Bank of China Hong Kong, the local arm of China's fourth-largest bank, said yesterday it has extended the system to 160 ATM machines across 18 districts and will eventually equip all its 400 ATM machines.

The function, launched last year and piloted in Central, provides customers with instant access to fast and secure banking services at branches and designated ATMs to help them enjoy a signature-free and password-free authorization to conduct designated transactions.

Finger-vein authentication incorporates near-infrared LED to scan the finger and identify the unique vein pattern.

This serves as a secure identity verification method as each person has his or her unique and non-repetitive pattern that does not change after adulthood.

Wang Lan, deputy general manager of e-finance center of BOCHK, said finger veins found beneath the skin's surface could create a "living password" with blood flow that is difficult to forge.

Hong Kong has a high level of cybersecurity because banks invest a lot in this sector and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority has tight regulations.

Finger-vein patterns are not altered by sweat, stains or peeling on fingers, therefore the accuracy of identification will remain unaffected.

The system can instantly compare the customer's registered finger vein information to verify the identity.

A customer is required to register for the system only once.

After that, they can use their finger-vein authentication to replace signatures or ATM card passwords to authorize bank transactions with ease.

Meanwhile, credit rating company TransUnion said it will further expand its eKYC - or electronic know your customer - technology this year. Lawrence Tsong, regional head of Asia Pacific at TransUnion Hong Kong, said the company has a database of authentication of customers.

He said this will help the eKYC Utility of the HKMA, in which third-party platforms help manage data as a strategic asset across banks to reduce duplication and cost, and assist banks in making decisions.

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