How Bio-Metrics will Combat Financial Crime

Currently there is a third of the world’s population on lockdown with that figure rising daily as more and more countries impose drastic measures to deal with the coronavirus COVID-19. As you sit there staring out into the spring sunshine longing for the outdoors and human contact whilst simultaneously sifting through endless emails and video conference calls in your make shift “Koffice” (kitchen office), it does not take long to realize our lives may very well change forever. A noticeable change that has already occurred and will most definitely will continue post pandemic is the avoidance of contact with as many surfaces in public as possible. It is quite hard to fathom on a daily basis how many objects and surfaces we touch that thousands of other hands have graced. With COVID-19 surviving on surfaces such as steel for up to 72 hours it is easy to see why concerns are high around being infected via contact.

This current state of heightened fear, however, may present a perfect vacuum that can be filled in the coming months. This is in the form of biometric cards; these cards would minimize the contact that the user has with items such as card machines and cash points. The card works by having an embedded fingerprint scanner in the card itself that can identify and match the cardholder’s fingerprint with the digital fingerprint image stored on the card. This would totally remove the need for contact with pin pads but allow larger transactions and an added layer of security that contactless payments currently does not. This may seem a little excessive but to put it in perspective a pin pad has as much bacteria on it as a public toilet and you would think twice about touching a public toilet multiple times a day without washing your hands.

Biometric identification clearly has many more benefits than just keeping people germ free. The technology could be used to fight financial crime and streamline time consuming AML processes. The use of biometric cards would prevent random criminal actors impersonating the card holder at ATM’s or card terminals thus reducing the amount of being committed. This would also lead to decrease in the sale of cloned cards on the black market as fraudsters would be unable to recreate the exact fingerprint linked to the card itself thus greatly decreasing the ability to use the persons account.

Biometric technology can easily be transposed into the KYC processes to not only reduce time heavy processes but also increase accuracy. Currently there is 1.1 billion people worldwide with no official identification, in addition it is difficult for a lot of customers to find multiple identification documents. As a result, these people find it difficult to meet the strict compliance policies of financial institutions during the onboarding process.

If fingerprint biometrics was implemented as a source of identification it would completely remove the need for identity documents by allowing people to use their fingerprint alone as their source of ID. The accuracy of the ID would be incredibly high as the chances of two people having the same fingerprint are 1 in 64 million, so misidentification would be very low. The main bonus for financial institutions would be that they would not need to employ thousands of people worldwide that spend their time verifying identification documents. The process would become fully automated and virtually instantaneous.

Companies like Apple implemented biometric technology years ago to secure our mobile phones, surely it is now time that financial institutions done the same to secure our money. The only real question is why has it taken so long?


By Bailey Goodman, Junior Consultant at Lysis Group