September 05 ,2014 | by Thiago Kiwi

Barclays introduces finger vein technology

Barclays has launched a pioneering service that may transform the way people access banking and usher in a new age of state-of-the-art security.

Currently, the usual practice involves users having to type in a number of passwords and numbers, which can be a somewhat laborious process.

Now though, the bank proposes an alternative system, quicker and, to all intents, safer – ‘finger vein’ identification.

You have read that right. Fingerprint identification does exist, though not commercially in banking – for example, the latest iPhone offers this. While certainly a safe system, it is open to manipulation.

“We did not feel comfortable with fingerprint technology in the corporate space, where clients are moving tens of millions of pounds,” Ashok Vaswani, chief executive of personal and corporate banking at Barclays, was quoted by the Financial Times as saying.

Finger vein technology, however, is much more unique and less open to being exploited. To access your account, all you will have to do is place one of your fingers into a scanner and that’s it.

What is picked up by the system, which can be plugged into a computer via USB port, is a person’s unique vein pattern.

As to which finger, well Barclays recommends the index finger, plus a back-up digit. Importantly, and this will leave people feeling comfortable, the data will be kept on a sim card that is added the device. The bank will not have access to this or store it.

“Unlike fingerprints, vein patterns are extremely difficult to spoof or replicate,” a spokesman for the bank said.

“The scanned finger must be attached to a live human body in order for the veins in the finger to be authenticated. Barclays will not hold the user’s vein pattern and there will be no public record of it.”

This service is going to be offered to business customers first, Barclays revealed, but, depending on the reception, will be opened to all its customers.

It is especially state-of-the-art. The scanner sends light through a finger, which is, in turn, absorbed by haemoglobin passing through the veins.

It is this that enables the device to authenticate that the user is the correct individual, thereby opening up the accounts. Where a false digit is presented, access will accordingly be denied.

“We have shown the technology to a range of businesses and the interest and enthusiasm for the product is tremendous,” Mr Vaswani told Wired.

“The technology has also been tested by Hitachi for many years and it will be game-changing for UK businesses and consumers. Ultimately, I hope this will pave the way for other institutions to adopt equally robust technology in the fight against online crime.”

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Thiago Kiwi

Thiago is the LSBF Blog Editor who manages news and features content on the site, and writes about business, finance, technology, education and careers.

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