Palm scanner could speed bank transactions

Fiserv technology verifies account with vein pattern

The Verifast scanner uses five million vein pattern reference points to authenticate a user.

In a few years, consumers may not need to carry a wallet to the bank.

That’s a potential reality of a new biometric technology released by Brookfield-based Fiserv Inc. for U.S. financial institutions called Verifast: Palm Authentication.

The Verifast scanner uses five million vein pattern reference points to authenticate a user.
The Verifast scanner uses five million vein pattern reference points to authenticate a user.

The company developed the product in cooperation with Fujitsu Ltd. for its DNA core account processing platform. It uses infrared light to read the unique vein structure in a user’s palms in a more efficient and secure authentication process.

Fujitsu commercialized its PalmSecure technology in 2004 and it has been in use at Japanese banks since then, but this is the first integration of the technology into a banking platform in the U.S., said Chris Van Der Stad, senior vice president and chief technology officer, Open Solutions at Fiserv.

The technology promises to mitigate fraud, reduce transaction times and improve branch service delivery. Fiserv said it can increase authentication speed by 90 percent with Verifast because the consumer doesn’t need to find—and tellers don’t need to type in—identity verification information such as a driver’s license or account number. Deposit or withdrawal slips could be a relic of the past.

The palm scan process has been better received than other biometric authentication technology, such as retina scans. Depending on their complexity, fingerprint scanners can be compromised easily, Van Der Stad said.

“(Palm vein is) hygienic. You don’t have to touch something, you’re holding your hand over something,” Van Der Stad said. “What makes it so secure is the number of reference points in the actual scan of the image.”

The Verifast scans five million reference points on the palm, and has added security because those points are under the skin and can’t be easily copied, as with facial recognition software.

Verifast was recently piloted at Gesa Credit Union in Richland, Washington.

“We benchmarked our traditional process and found that it takes about 15 seconds for a member to authenticate themselves at a teller station,” said Karl Guynn, director of products at Gesa Credit Union. “Palm vein authentication takes about one second, so we’ve shaved 14 seconds off each transaction.”

After an initial setup with the technology, the user’s account can be pre-loaded into the teller window by simply holding a palm over the scanner. The device takes an encrypted signature and matches it back to the photos taken when the customer enrolled.

“We’re in an age of speed and fast and get in and out and so this really adds to that convenience,” he said. “In our space, where we’re trying to enable the teller to sell, to cross-sell to the consumer…this enables them to be able to spend their time with the consumer in a different way than they normally would.”

And there are other potential uses for the palm scan technology, Van Der Stad said. Fiserv is already working on a computer mouse embedded with the scanner to automatically verify a teller when he or she arrives at a work station.

“When you think about the experience…it really is easier than pulling your phone out of your pocket,” he said.

Fiserv Inc.
Innovation: Verifast: Palm Authentication

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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