Barclays: Finger Vein Scanner 'Game-Changing'
Barclays has said it is committed to a biometric future in banking security while showing off its new finger scanner aimed at cutting fraud.
The bank said the scanner, which can be used by corporate clients from next year, was part of a package of measures it was planning for customers which would include wider use of voice recognition technology in personal banking.
Barclays' reader - developed with Hitachi - scans a finger and identifies unique vein patterns to access accounts, instead of using a password or PIN.
The bank said that unlike finger prints, vein patterns were extremely difficult to spoof or replicate.
It explained: "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."
Vein recognition technology is used by some banks in Japan and elsewhere at cash machines but Barclays said it is the first bank globally to use it for significant account transactions.
Ashok Vaswani, chief executive of Barclays personal and corporate banking, said it was a response to the fact that criminals were becoming more sophisticated.
"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," he said.
Britain's private companies lost £21bn from fraud in 2012, with financial firms suffering a quarter of that loss according to official estimates.
While PIN number and card fraud has accounted for some of that total, banks worldwide are under increasing pressure from hackers - with banking authorities now regularly conducting exercises to test the resilience of their defences.
Barclays launched voice recognition biometrics for private banking clients last year.
It said it was exploring a number of opportunities to expand its use that could include similar technology for mobile tablets, which is the fastest growing area for European banks, or at cash machines.