Barclays banks on finger vein authentication for account security

Barclays plans to do away with PIN numbers and pass codes for its corporate clients by introducing a biometric system that reads the unique vein patterns in people's fingers to give them access to their accounts.

The system relies on Hitachi's Vein ID system, which is reportedly already used for single sign-on and cash machine transactions in Japan, North America and parts of Europe.

Barclays said it intends to roll out the technology from next year, initially to its corporate clients, to protect its customers from falling foul of identity thieves and fraudsters.

However, over time, as the technology presumably gets cheaper to buy, Barclays said it could deploy Vein ID to branches across the UK.

The system is designed to take a scan of the user's finger and trace the unique pattern of veins within it.

In order for it to work, the finger must be attached to a live human being.

In a statement, announcing the move, Barclays said it was favouring the use of Finger Vein Authentication Technology over a fingerprint-based security system because vein patterns are harder to spoof.

Ashok Vaswani, CEO of Barclays personal and corporate banking division, said the technology is being backed by the firm in response to customer concerns about online fraud.

"We have shown the technology to a range of businesses and the interest and enthusiasm for the product is tremendous. The technology has also been tested by Hitachi for many years and it will be game-changing for UK businesses and consumers," said Vaswani.

"Ultimately, I hope this will pave the way for other institutions to adopt equally robust technology in the fight against online crime."

Koichi Nakai, president of the services creation division at Hitachi, added: "In a world where cybercrime is on the rise, VeinID offers one of the industry's most advanced authentication technologies ensuring businesses and their customers can stay one step ahead of fraudsters."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.