Barclays Bank is to introduce "finger-vein ID" readers that will allow customers to junk their pin numbers, passwords and authentication codes and instead access their account with just a scan of their digit.
The new biometric machines do not look at a person's fingerprint, but instead make an infra-red scan of the unique vein pattern that lies just below the skin surface of everyone's fingers. The user will simply plug the device into their computer and put their finger in the hole to be granted instant access to their account.
Customers will first have to register a finger – Barclays is recommending the index finger, plus a back-up digit should you be careless enough to lose or damage the first choice. The unique vein pattern in the finger will then be held on a sim card that is added to the reader. Barclays itself will not store the data.
Crucially, the finger vein reader only works with a live finger with blood coursing through its veins. Barclays is adamant that a cut-off finger could not be used to criminally access an account.
Initially the machines will be sent to Barclays' 30,000 corporate customers in 2015, but if successful, the plan is to extend finger-vein technology to millions more customers.
Already in Poland 2,000 ATMs are being fitted with finger-vein readers that effectively replace the chip on a bank card and promise "cash within your finger".
A Barclays spokesman said: "Unlike fingerprints, vein patterns are extremely difficult to spoof or replicate. The scanned finger must be attached to a live human body in order for the veins in the finger to be authenticated. Barclays will not hold the user's vein pattern and there will be no public record of it."
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