Barclays’ Fingervein tech is still a long way off

With all this fuss about Barclays' new fingervein scanners you would think we were on the cusp of the new age, right here, right now.

With all this fuss about Barclays’ new fingervein scanners you would think we were on the cusp of the new age, right here, right now. But really, we are not going to see any impact of biometrics for a good few years yet and even the first roll out in the corporate sector won’t be offered until 2015, writes Anna Milne

The announcement comes amid fresh rounds of fear about identity and online security and will likely spark off an ongoing debate about company-held data.

Fingervein technology is said to be more secure than fingerprint technology as vein patterns are very difficult to replicate. Fingerprints were replicated in the so-called Gummi Bear hack a few years ago.

A mould was created of a fingerprint using the same gelatine used in the sweets and then, because the gelatine has similar properties to skin, the scanners could still detect electrical charges through the forged print.

Another fingervein security bonus is that the scanner requires a live finger to be used. Although this means the dual threats of coercion and drugging are still a danger. But aren’t they always.

Fingervein scanning technology works by detecting the pattern of haemoglobin in the blood by transmitting infra-red light through the fingertip onto a camera reader. The light is partially absorbed by the haemoglobin so that the rays hitting the camera on the other side produce a unique pattern profile which can be matched with the individual’s registered profile to verify identity.

Japan developed and introduced this technology and Poland was the first country in Europe to adopt it in ATMs. Fingervein technology is said to be as reliable as iris scanning, but cheaper.

Barclays will roll out the readers to 30,000 corporate customers on an opt-in basis in 2015 so it is unlikely to hit the retail sector until at least a year or two after that, presumably making its way via wealth customers first. So we’re a while off being able to ditch the PINs or even having to remember our own names