Customers 'want biometrics'

Fujitsu, a supplier of biometric authentication systems, has suggested that one in three UK banking customers want financial institutions to implement biometric security features

One in three banking customers is ready to embrace biometric technologies in the hope of adding greater security to their finances.

Card cloning, PIN theft by shoulder surfing and high-profile phishing attacks are all undermining consumer confidence in secure banking and many would be happy to use biometric solutions such as digital fingerprints to add an extra layer of authentication and security, according to Fujitsu Services.

Fujitsu interviewed UK banking customers and found one in three would like their banks to start using biometrics.

Fujitsu claims to have already enjoyed success in Japan with trials of biometric cash points where customers' palms are read. The system works using a proprietary Fujitsu algorithm which creates a pattern of the blood vessels in the palm using an infra-red scan. It is then checked against patterns which can either be stored in the system or on a bank card.

Ann Hosford, business development manager for financial services at Fujitsu, said: "UK banks need to draw on the experience of other financial institutions around the world if card fraud in the UK is to be reduced."

"Biometric security can be used to build customer confidence and to reduce PIN theft," added Hosford.

One of the greatest concerns about biometrics is their reliability, though such concerns owe much to headlines written in the earliest days of public trials.

One of the areas the technology fell down on was with false negatives — instances when individuals were declined services on the grounds the machines didn't recognise them. This was particularly common with Asian women who had very fine skin, but results could also be jeopardised by the presence of cuts, scratches and blemishes, or even the use of hand cream.

The other major headache is on the logistics side: both getting customers to come in and register their details can prove a challenge, as well as the costs associated with providing the new hardware and infrastructure.

Hosford told ZDNet UK sister site silicon.com: "Potentially, of course, this could be a hurdle as people are required to actually do something and banks will incur the costs."

However, Hosford believes the money saved from fraud and the ability to regrow customer confidence will provide their own rewards for the banks. Hosford also predicted such implementations won't happen overnight and gradual rollout will ease the headache of signing up customers.