Evaluating biometric identification for securing cash management services

January 18, 2016

Biometric identification uses distinctive physical characteristics to set people apart. Fingerprints are the most widely and long-used example. In fact, nearly 4,000 years ago in Babylon, parties to a commercial agreement would press their fingerprints on the wet clay of tablets used to codify their arrangement.


Today, other unique identifiers have joined fingerprints to ensure people are who they’re supposed to be: facial recognition, DNA, iris and retina recognition, and even body scent. In addition, behavioral traits can be used to identify people, including voice patterns, typing rhythms, even walking gaits.


Weighing the benefits. At GardaWorld, we are keeping a close watch on biometric technology developments as ways to enhance our own security as well as that of the wide range of solutions we provide to our customers. Obviously we have tremendous layers of security built into our physical facilities, plus high levels of security and verification into our cash handling processes and the personnel operating them.


On the customer side, we have evaluated biometrics for our various technology solutions, such as our CashLINK smart safes, which currently require PIN codes to access their features. Right now, however, the large added cost doesn’t seem to have sufficient commensurate benefit. Could biometrics eventually be cost-effective? Quite likely.


CashLINK biometrics. For example, we do have a GardaWorld customer that has tied facial recognition technology into its CashLINK smart safe authentication. When someone opens the safe, the facial recognition not only validates the person’s identity, but it also signals several video cameras to focus their view angles on the person and his or her activities involved in the opening and closing of the safe.


But like any technology, as biometric identification systems’ costs drop, the potential for use in GardaWorld’s own solutions will rise. For example, we can envision its deployment in treasury operations, retail loss prevention, and other operations, including our GardaWorld secure transportation. Our Cash Services Officers could be identified by facial recognition or iris scans to ensure no imposters in GardaWorld uniforms show up at our customers’ doors to haul their cash away.


Eventual adoption. We can also see its use in other solutions associated with cash management and protective services for our GardaWorld customers. Examples include ATM machines, cash registers and other point-of-sale devices, and inventory scanners. Fact is, virtually any device requiring a PIN code today for identification and authentication can provide sufficient security against today’s criminals. But if more secure access technologies like biometrics become available, why not add them?


Again, the key question will always be: Is the technology cost-effective? At some point they likely will be. Take video communications as an example. Back in the 1970s through the early 2000s, point-to-point and multi-party video communications technology was extremely expensive and cumbersome. Only large corporations, usually global ones, could afford it, justifying the costs with the savings on long-distance travel.


Then, in 2003, two Swedes introduced Skype, eventually bought by Microsoft in 2011 for $8.5 billion. Today, Skype has been joined by Apple’s FaceTime to provide users all over the world with free videoconferencing over their desktop devices, increasingly laptops and tablets, as well as their smartphones. Similarly we can foresee the day when biometric identification and authentication technologies become just as ubiquitous and inexpensive.


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