Less waiting, fingerprint check coming to your bank

Posted on January 20th, 2006

Imagine a personalised welcome, few queues and fingerprint checks. This could be your bank branch in the future, thanks to cutting-edge technology such as radio frequency identification and biometric scanning.

In five years’ time major banks across the globe could be using these time-saving and customer-personalised devices to revolutionise branch banking, consultancy firm Accenture said on Wednesday in a presentation on the bank branch of the future.

‘Banks are trying to differentiate themselves and branches are still fundamental to this, so they are trialling lots of this new technology,’ said Simon Jenkins, retail banking partner for Accenture in the UK.

Radio frequency identification (RFID) is a technology being developed by retailers that should migrate to banks. Customers would be automatically identified by the RFID-encrypted card in their wallet as they pass through the door, prompting a personalised welcome to flash up on a computer screen.

By the time the customer reaches the counter all his or her details are on the screen of the teller, who can discuss specific requirements without asking a lot of redundant questions.

‘The bank wants to be able to identify the customer the minute they walk in and understand why they are there,’ said Mike Redding, head of development for Accenture Technology Labs.

‘The most innovative banks will then combine the data they already have and the new information they get and simplify it and make it usable.’

RFID is also likely to feature in bank cards, key rings or mobile phones as a payment option. The process is already under way in many countries and oil major Exxon Mobil has issued 6 million SpeedPasses to allow users to pay for gasoline easily at the pump, Redding said.

Demand for anti-fraud measures should see advances in biometrics — fingerprint or eye, facial, palm, voice, vein or even ear shape recognition software operated by bank staff or included in an automated teller machine.

Redding said that, with banks keener than ever to get an edge over rivals, other technology set to appear in branches includes digital pen and paper or camera-based tracking to monitor customer traffic and improve service and efficiency.

Away from the branch, other financial services applications set to feature includes telematics, or automotive data collection, which could see more insurers analysing journeys and offering ‘pay-as-you-drive’ cover for motorists.

By Steve Slater (Reuters)