Brazil's largest bank rolls out AI-enabled cameras in branches

The initiative at Itaú Unibanco aims to improve security and customer experience but raises concerns over customer privacy.

Brazil's largest private bank Itaú Unibanco is implementing cameras equipped with artificial intelligence technology to boost the security and customer service of physical branches.

The trial saw the introduction of the equipment in several branches across the country last year. According to the institution, results of the initiative will now be evaluated with a view of extending it to the entire branch network.

Itaú has not confirmed the exact number of cameras and the locations where they have already been introduced. The technology supplier the company has been working with also remains undisclosed.

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Enabling faster and more effective response time around criminal activity at branches is one of the main objectives of the project. Through a database, the cameras are able to identify suspicious activity at the premises, such as the presence of objects like firearms and iron bars.

In addition to offering better image quality, the bank points out that the AI-enabled cameras also play an important role in the customer experience at the branch.

Facial recognition allows Itaú to determine the number of clients within the agency, measuring queue time and generating heat maps to establish which sector has the highest concentration of people.

However, the project raises concerns around customer privacy. Last year, São Paulo subway operator ViaQuatro was sued after rolling out "interactive doors" which collected data on passengers such as emotions, approximate age and gender.

According to Itaú, customer privacy is "a key consideration" in all of its data initiatives.

"We use [AI] technology for security purposes and to manage the operational flow of customers in branches," says a spokesperson for the bank.

All personal data processed at Itaú is handled in a compliant manner, the spokesperson points out, adding that the bank is also taking Brazil's upcoming general data protection regulations into account.