Using biometrics to beat fraud

October 2013 Access Control & Identity Management

Earlier this year Bytes announced it had bought Brand New Technologies (BNT), an established player in the identity management market. BNT distributed Lumidigm and Identytech readers as well as electronic signature and iris recognition solutions. Hi-Tech Security Solutions spoke to Nick Perkins, divisional director for identity management at Bytes Systems Integration to find out what the company’s plans were in the identity and biometric space following the acquisition.

Nick Perkins, divisional director, identity management solutions, Bytes Systems Integration.
Nick Perkins, divisional director, identity management solutions, Bytes Systems Integration.

Bytes now has the distribution rights for Lumidigm in Africa as well as the Middle East, areas where the company has an active footprint.

“Perkins says Bytes has been involved in the access control side of biometric use in the past, focusing more on the logical side of the market. The company has found a real need for biometric identity verification in the financial and retail markets.”

In the financial space, organisations are looking for ways to verify their customers’ identities before opening new accounts or authorising new policies in order to reduce the increasing amount of fraud these companies face. When signing on a new client, a bank for example could take their ID book and their fingerprints and quickly verify their identity with the Home Affairs identity database. This simple check could cut out future fraud from identity theft.

Soon we could also see fingerprint biometrics expanded into other areas, such as ATMs or card transactions where a biometric could replace the current PIN system.

Retailers also face similar fraud issues when issuing loyalty cards or offering customers credit. By incorporating biometrics into their sign-on process, the store can quickly and easily verify an identity whenever a card is swiped, significantly reducing the potential for fraud when criminals try to use a stolen card.

Perkins says the use of biometrics as described above will allow these companies to cut down their operational exposure to fraud. It is not a reactive solution, such as monitoring reports and log files that discovers fraud after the fact, but stops it from happening in the first place.

The same principles can be applied internally as companies work to prevent internal fraud and identity theft, or for simply making sure they hire the right people. HR departments, for example, could verify the identities of job applicants before their first interview, checking for CCMA activity, valid drivers’ licences, criminal records or whatever is important to the employer. This will allow the firm to understand whom they are talking to and what their real qualifications are from the start.

The identity life cycle

Perkins adds that Bytes follows a four-step identity life cycle when dealing with clients, offering services and products at each step.

1. The capture phase: In this step all the relevant information is collected in the preferred format through different devices. The documents can be stored and authorised in electronic format if required.

2. The verification phase: In this step, which can be challenging, Bytes assists by handling the database verification of the identity, such as checking with the Home Affairs database, criminal records or credit checks. It does not verify the authenticity of the documents or the person.

3. The issuance stage: This is the step in which the verified information is taken and a credential (such as a loyalty card) issued.

4. The maintenance phase: This is the operational phase and Bytes supplies and supports the technology customers need to issue any type of credential (such as cards), as well as provide the equipment to scan fingerprints to verify identities as part of its customers’ operational processes.

Perkins says there are a number of biometric options customers can choose from, but fingerprints have proven reliable and more cost efficient today than they were in the past. The addition of BNT as well as the skills and experience in the company will allow Bytes to further drive the use of biometrics into the business world, specifically the retail and financial markets.

For more information, contact Nick Perkins, Bytes Systems Integration, +27 (0)11 205 7000,

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