Authorisation for Africa

April 2006 Access Control & Identity Management

African Bank was looking to install new biometric fingerprint readers at its branches for the purpose of loan application authorisation. The ideal solution was to be cost-effective and at the same time provide enhanced system benefits over the existing system in order to satisfy customer expectations. The bank is a publicly listed company on the JSE, has annual sales in excess of R5,4 billion and employs 2500 permanent staff members and 1900 on contract.

Systems and needs

The technology in use at the time was too slow at providing an authentic verification and needed to be upgraded. African Bank needed to develop proprietary software to integrate into their custom applications. The new proposed solution had to be user-friendly with simple operating functionality. The system needed to be speedily and effectively rolled out to hundreds of branches with central download functionality. Technology needed to operate on a Windows platform and integrate into the software application currently operating over the WAN. Simple plug-and-play technology was required for simple swap out and minimising of system downtime in the case of any reader failure. A secure authentication environment over the WAN was required.

Limtech Biometric Solutions did a full evaluation of the existing set-up and made the necessary recommendations and system implementations.

Project definition and scope

The project involved the installation of Digital Persona UrU biometric fingerprint readers at every African Bank branch so that the managers are able to authorise loan applications. A central database of all managers at each branch is maintained at head office, and authentication of the manager occurs at head office over the company WAN, using JAVA and WEB browser technology.

Once the manager has processed the application, an authenticated review is dispersed.

An audit trail of all management authentications for application review is maintained.

The Digital Persona UrU Windows-based USB fingerprint scanner features an optical camera lens with 500dpi resolution and silicon membrane protection for durability and optimum image capture. The scanner proposed offers rotation invariant functionality enabling a user to place his finger at any angle on the scanner to achieve a match. It offers 128-bit encryption of all fingerprint templates over the WAN creating a secure environment. Limtech provided a Software Development Kit allowing for a customised proprietary solution to be developed.

As a custom software development house, Limtech was able to offer resources and support to African Bank and assist where required in developing the solution and hardware integration.

Limtech was also able to offer extended hardware warranties over and above standard 12-month product warranties.

Protective fingerprint scanner casings and protective PC mounting brackets where required to protect the hardware.

As the first phase of the project, the solution has been rolled out to 320 African Bank branches.

For more information contact Chris Snell, Limtech Biometric Solutions, 011 268 5511,, or Johan Hattingh, African Bank, 011 256 9886,

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