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Iris scan for senior citizens soon? Banks look at options for verifying transactions

April 20, 2024

India's commercial banks are exploring the possibility of using iris scans to authenticate transactions, particularly for their senior citizen customers, according to individuals familiar with the matter.

The banks are currently in discussions with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and other stakeholders regarding the implementation of iris scans, as the aging process can affect the reliability of fingerprints or thumb impressions for authentication purposes.

"The issue was deliberated in a meeting last month, and it was decided to reach out to the RBI for further discussions about the implementation and challenges," a bank executive was quoted as saying by ET.

The executive further said that an internal committee of banks which is headed by A. Manimekhalai, managing director, Union Bank of India, has made some initial observations that are currently being deliberated.

"There are implementation issues and cyber security challenges, but with already such authentication available through the Aadhaar platform, further linkages can be explored," the executive said.

According to a second banker, lenders are discussing the challenges associated with implementation and are exploring options such as re-enrolment for senior citizens who have undergone eye surgeries like cataract operations. "All these challenges are there, but we are exploring multiple options," he said.

A 2019 study by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Jodhpur highlighted that cataract surgery can impact the discriminative nature of iris texture patterns, raising concerns about the reliability of iris-based biometric recognition systems for individuals who have undergone such surgeries.

State Bank of India announced plans to explore the implementation of iris scanners at its customer service points (CSPs) via 'Bank Mitra' channels last year. This decision was made in response to the difficulties encountered by elderly pensioners and customers. The announcement came after a 70-year-old woman, who was a pensioner, was unable to receive her funds due to a mismatch between her thumb impressions and the bank's records.

In the aforementioned case, SBI clarified that the pension amount was promptly disbursed by manually debiting the sum.

Currently, under the Aadhaar Enabled Payment Systems (AEPS), online interoperable financial transactions at point of sale (PoS) or micro ATMs can be carried out using Aadhaar authentication, which includes both fingerprints and iris scans. However, recent analysis by the government's Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) revealed that AEPS frauds accounted for 11% of cyber financial scams in 2023.

[The Times of India]

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