Online biometric verification launched at South African banks
09 November 2011 14:50 GMT

Stamping out banking fraud with biometrics

Biometrics are to be used to stamp out fraud in the South African financial sector it has been announced by Home Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, as she unveiled a new online fingerprint verification system.

In essence the Department of Home Affairs will allow banks access to the Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS) to enable the biometric identification of current and prospective clients.

Dlamini Zuma said: "The launch of the Online Fingerprint Verification System…will lay a basis for us jointly to deal a massive and decisive blow against acts of fraud and corruption that have cost our financial and banking institutions millions if not billions of rand."

SABRIC CEO Kalyani Pillay explained more about the system: "We began piloting and testing some of these issues in 2010. Our participating banks are ABSA, Nedbank, First National Bank, Standard Bank, African Bank. While not all are SABRIC clients, these are the banks that are participating at the moment and are at different stages of implementation at the moment. ABSA Bank has started, FNB has followed and the other three banks are ready to implement."

The service will be available to anyone with an account at these banks and who also has their fingerprints registered at South African Home Affairs. South Africa currently has the fingerprints of all citizens over the age of 16 with permanent residence and refugees, although it does not have fingerprints of people who are in the country on work permits.

The banks will not be able to access the biometric data directly in the database, but they will be able to verify the identity of a client through information in the database. The bank client will place their finger on a biometric reader. This information will then be sent through to the Department of Home Affairs and the results will come back as verified or not.

ABSA said ina statement that during the pilot at seven Absa branches, seven fraudulent cases whereby applicants tried to utilise the identities of deceased persons to open accounts, were detected.

Meanwhile, the system is already operational at 160 branches of First National Bank.

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