All new credit card swipe machines and automated teller machines (ATMs) will be required to have a mechanism for Aadhaar authentication using biometrics. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is understood to be preparing such a directive to improve security and promote financial inclusion.
The central bank had been debating between the international ‘chip and PIN’ and Aadhaar-based authentication to provide additional security for card transactions. Although RBI appears to have reconciled to a combination of ‘chip and PIN’ authentication for existing customers and biometric checks for hitherto unbanked cardholders, the challenge is in the acceptance devices.
There are 1.2 lakh ATMs and 10.30 lakh credit card swipe (Point of Sales, or PoS) machines. Banks are expected to add around two lakh PoS machines and around 20,000 ATMs next year. All these machines will need to have facilities to scan biometrics. This will significantly increase investment costs. The other implication is that traditional phone lines may not work to send scanned fingerprint images for verification. Banks say that new machines will require the equivalent of 3G data speeds to transmit biometric data.
“The cost implications will be huge. Banks may have to divert funds for developing business to building the infrastructure,” said a banker. Another banker said that it was equivalent to investing in building a metro after having spent money on roads.
By adding a fingerprint scanner to its newest mobile phone, Apple Inc. is offering a tantalizing glimpse of a future where your favorite gadget might become a biometric pass to the workplace, mobile commerce or real-world shopping and events.
Although Apple’s executives said at Tuesday’s launch that its Touch ID technology embedded into the iPhone 5S’ home button would only provide fingerprint access to the phone and its own online stores, analysts said Apple’s embrace of such technology, called biometrics, would be key to wider adoption.
“It really propels biometrics into the mainstream,” said specialist Alan Goode, the U.K. -based managing director of research consultancy Goode Intelligence.
Jonathan Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of design, hinted of its future in a video presentation at the launch.
“Touch ID defines the next step of how you use your iPhone,” he said, “making something as important as security so effortless and so simple.”
Passwords and personal identification numbers (PINs) have long been the mainstay of access to devices, bank accounts and online services, despite their poor record. Many passwords can easily be guessed, while others can be hacked by brute-force attacks – essentially a computer program running through all possible permutations.
They also involve one too many steps for lots of users: Apple said that half of smartphone users don’t bother to password-protect their devices.
Hence the appeal of biometrics, which take something unique to the individual – a fingerprint, an iris, voice or facial features – as authentication.
Apple’s move may not have an immediate impact beyond improving the way users unlock their devices and interact with Apple services like iTunes and its App Store.
But that is itself a significant step. Apple has more than 500 million iTunes accounts. Anything that increases security and removes steps in the payment process is bound to boost online purchases.
It will also raise the comfort levels of companies supplying the content to a mobile commerce sector expected to reach $40-billion next year in the United States alone, according to Euromonitor estimates. full story
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