The International Finance Corporation, a World Bank subsidiary which provides loans and equity financing for private sector projects in the developing world, has engaged International Biometric Group to develop a blueprint for the large scale introduction of biometric security techniques in financial services provision.
The IFC says widespread adoption of biometrics - such as fingerprint and facial scanning - could provide accessible, secure and reliable financial services in developing countries.
"In South Africa, mobile banks fitted out with biometrics have allowed rural populations that were previously denied bank accounts to have access to banking that is both convenient and secure," states Kumiko Yoshinari, principal advisor at IFC. "If applied on a wider scale, biometrics have the potential to bring out all those savings from under mattresses into the formal banking system. These funds can then be channeled into productive uses. Biometrics may be one technology in which poorer countries will leap-frog industrialised nations."
New York-based International Biometric Group has been contracted to formulate plans for the design and deployment of biometric financial services and coordinate amongst various technology developers, integrators and financial services organisations.
"Traditional banking methods based on cards, PINs and account numbers are simply not effective in many developing countries," says Raj Nanavati, partner with International Biometric Group. "By providing increased accessibility and customer convenience via biometric technologies, IFC can overcome a major hurdle to the effective distribution of basic financial services such as pension benefits, savings accounts and health insurance."
Commonly used biometric technologies include finger-scan, voice-scan, facial-scan and hand-scan. In the developed world, biometric identification techniques have yet to win social acceptance, or prove robust enough for mass market roll-out.