Card machines across the globe perhaps underwent a landmark moment in their history today, with the launch of a new, futuristic style ATM that enables users to withdraw cash by simply placing their finger onto an infra-red card reader that then conducts an identity check on them by analysing the unique pattern of veins on their hand.
Poland has become the first nation in Europe to officially launch the new ìfinger vein IDî terminals, with an estimated 2,000 new card machines being unveiled in a multitude of high street branches and supermarkets across the country.
In essence, the new finger technology is a direct substitution for the quintessential ìchipî feature on a card, which has long functioned to identify the card holder. The finger will now act in the role, as the infra-red reader will instantly identify the users identity by analysing the unique vein pattern on one of their fingers, on the converse side of their hand.
The infra-red technology has previously been used in Japan as a security component which identity checks bank account holders who are seeking to access money from their safety deposit box by scanning their veins. Supporters of the technology have argued that the vein analysis is far more accurate and less easy to deceive than fingerprint identification technology, and as secure and adept as iris-reading devices.
However, the innovative machines- which are commonly utilised and widely available in Japan- are not expected to reach the UK for a number of years, with none of the countryís leading financial institutions dropping any hints that they will adopt the technology anytime in the near future.
Safer than fingerprint technology, matches iris security checks
Hitachi Europe, the organisation behind Polandís adoption of the new machines, has pointed out that the technology has nothing to do with analysing finger prints, instead cross referencing the live reading of a card users finger veins with a pre-registered sample in order to determine whether it is the legitimate account holder who is making a transaction.
“Near-infra-red light is transmitted through the finger and partially absorbed by haemoglobin in the veins to capture a
unique finger vein pattern profile, which is then matched with a pre-registered profile to verify individual identity,” it says.
Technological experts have argued that the new system is far better for security purposes than fingerprint analysis, with the new ATMís also coming with an added feature that measures the movement and activity of a hand in order to clearly determine whether it is real or not.
The only real criticisms that have been levelled at the new technology- which is cheaper than iris scanners- is that due to them being in the early days of their development, that no one can concretely say that they will work for users their entire lives as no one is fully sure what changes happen to individuals veins as they get older.
According to Hitachi, a personís unique vein patterns are formed in their motherís womb before they are even born, and stay that way for the entirety of their lives. However, this is not a confirmed actuality by any stretch, and sceptics will still call for further investigation and tests to be done on the technology before it is universally adapted.
A Hitachi Spokesman, Pete Jones, said: “They are a physiological feature that is established in the mother’s womb. As the person grows, they remain the same. Even if someone becomes very overweight, all that happens is that the pattern scales up. We have been researching this technology for 15 years and found it to be very stable.”
However, despite the number of merits that come with using the ATMís, none of the countryís leading banks and building societies have signalled any intention to adopt them anytime soon, with it thought that the use of biometric data, and the ethical and legal problems that this would pose, has been a key reason for why more prominent western countries havenít started using them yet.
A spokeswoman for Lloyds Bank, said: “We have no plans to adopt this technology at the moment.” Link, which runs the biggest network of ATMs in the UK, said: “The use of biometrics as authentication for ATM transactions is a very interesting development, and one we’re keeping a close eye on in the UK. ATMs are always evolving and although this is not a technology currently under development for the UK, there’s nothing to say we won’t see it in future.”