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Fingerprint based ATMs now launched to protect your money

Soon before you can get money from the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) a finger print will be required.

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Fingerprint based ATMs now launched to protect your money


Diebold managing director Africa Malek Ferdi (left) explains the features of the new ATM machine to CBK governor Njuguna Ndung’u. Photo/Salaton Njau  Nation Media Group

Soon before you can get money from the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) a finger print will be required.

The simple act of withdrawing money from your accounts is about to enter a new phase of the digital age, following the introduction of ATM machines with a biometric fingerprint scanner.  

The fingerprint scanner, which will be used alongside the traditional PIN system, is the latest in a line of efforts by the banking industry to thwart the menace of ATM fraudsters and scammers.

A new line of ATM machines, launched last week, in Nairobi, by Diebold, an American tech company, and Kenyan IT solutions firm Tracom Services incorporates the biometric function alongside a raft of other security features to help banks and their customers fight fraudsters.

The extra safety features an the ATMs are being brought in as the banking industry moves from the old magnetic strip ATM cards and migrating to the new generation micro chip embedded cards that have the EMV (Europay MasterCard Visa) technology designed to make it more difficult to illegally scan card details.


Speaking during the launch of the new ATMs, Diebold Product marketing manager of ATMs Martin Koffijberg said the biometric sensor will be optional on ATM machines as per the requirements of the banks.

“Card trapping is regaining popularity due to the EMV technology that has countered the problem of skimming. With the fingerprint required to complete a transaction, a fraudster who traps the card will still not be able to access the account afterwards,” said Mr Koffijberg.

In order for a customer to access the feature, he or she will have to submit additional details to the bank, including having their prints scanned and entered into the banks database.

The account will then be programmed so that the ATM machine demands a fingerprint authentication before allowing the transaction to go ahead.

“The fingerprint is the one unique thing that a fraudster cannot steal from a banks customer,” added Tracom Services business development manager Andrew Muiruri.

The new ATMs will additionally have a one way safety lock system that will prevent insertion of jammers into the money dispensing unit, helping deal with the problem of fraudsters who use jammers to block the cash from the ATM, removing it after a frustrated customer moves out of the ATM lobby.

The card insertion slot also comes with a sensor that detects whether any object other than the card is inserted, and stops the transaction detaining the card.

Scammers have been placing objects in the ATM slots which skim and mimic card details which are later used to duplicate the card and fraudulently fleece the owner’s account.


Other features on the new ATMs include two strategically placed mirrors on the top of the machine that help the customer detect over-the-shoulder PIN reading fraudsters, as well as an ultraviolet light point to help detect fake currency notes.

Standard Chartered customers fell victim to a card skimming scam in December 2012. They found anomalies, where withdrawals had been made from their accounts without their knowledge.

As a precautionary measure, the bank sent messages urging customers to change their ATM pin numbers.

These incidences led to the clamour in the industry to speed up adoption of the new technology, with the Kenya Bankers Association launching a cost shared scheme to have all banks migrate to the EMV technology by the end of September 2013.


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Contributed by Charles Mwaniki of Business Daily Africa.


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