[Dave Birch] I was surprised that the first item on the BBC news yesterday was again about card fraud (which they insist on calling chip & PIN fraud when it is only the PIN that is compromised).  The main part of the report was entirely about petrol stations — and even claimed, I think somewhat imaginatively — that motorists are starting to use cash instead of cards.  I wonder if the extent of the reporting of the fraud, if not the fraud itself, will genuinely cause a backlash against card use for fuel?  And if it does, will people really go back to cash or will they instead prefer to move to a biometric solution such as the PayByTouch system installed at the Stop ‘n Save gas and convenience stores in Colorado, some of the 2,000 U.S. retailers that use the technology.  Of these, Piggly Wiggly has the best name, in my opinion.

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To use the biometric payment and loyalty scheme, Stop ‘n Save customers register by scanning their fingerprints and providing a cancelled cheque. They can then pay for purchases by scanning their fingers and entering a 10-digit PIN number (I think this is generally their phone number) to verify their identities.  A case study of PayByTouch deployment at a grocery store named Green Hills seems very positive. Nine months after the introduction of the technology, 25% of Green Hills’ sales are made via biometric payments, and 28% of those are processed over the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network (ie, swerving round payment card networks).  Now, I’m up front about being a smart card and mobile phone fan, but if people like using biometrics and they are fast enough at POS, then I can see why they will gain ground.

As we have discussed before at Digital Identity, however, I think the main mass market thrust for biometrics will be about convenience, not security, as in the case of the biometric ATMs that Citibank has launched in India for micro-finance customers.  The ATMs authorise transactions by scanning customers’ thumbprints instead of a PIN code.  Citibank plans to establish a network of 25 to 35 such ATMs within a year, specifically targeted at its Citibank `Pragati’ savings account holders. Citibank `Pragati’ is a no-frills savings account with nil minimum balance and is offered directly or through a micro-finance institution (MFI).  I’m not sure why using a thumbprint is quicker or easier than using a PIN, but perhaps in a largely illiterate target group it could make a big difference.

My opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public. [posted with ecto]


  1. Fraud crimes will continue to grow until we exploit ID KEY (memory stick or card) system which will make both the signature and PIN number systems reliable as follows. Details on ID KEY system on website http://www.theuniversalidsystem.com
    ID KEY will activate printer to print ID sticker (small sticker with person’s image and name printed on it) which can be attached to the document and countersigned to personalise signature. Chip and PIN system does not make entire signature system reliable the way personalised signature system will and hence is not good enough in combating fraud crimes. Current signature system is like passports without photos and that is why it is so difficult to deter and prosecute fraudsters. Why would anyone get tempted to misuse this system when they know that in the event of crime we will know who they are?
    ID KEY will be needed to activate ATMs, Why would anyone get tempted to use stolen or skimmed cards when they know that ATM will not get activated without the use of Card Key Code stored in ID KEY?
    *Chip and PIN card system is boosting ATM fraud because fraudsters now have option to skim cards and pick PIN numbers even from retail outlets rather than only ATMs.
    Systems like Chip and PIN, biometric ID cards etc. will not make signature and PIN number system at ATMs reliable the way ID KEY system will and hence these systems will only make bad problems worse by diverting fraud crimes to other sectors.

  2. October 7th, 2007
    Clearly Biometrics is a Trojan horse.
    Look how the Oil Industries’ military in Myanmar are murdering passive pro-democracy protesters in the cities of that country.
    The automated Biometric systems process the video clips of protesters in nano-seconds for government pre-dawn roundups of these innocents for delivery, live to Oil Industry funded government crematoriums.
    Do you really think the Haliberton, Blackwater recruits from the Middle East will treat unarmmed “Americans” any different? Look at their murderous treasonous involvement with the “Twin Towers”.
    Fools rush in where wise men never go! Best think twice before trading your own flesh and blood identification(which is an individual’s God given inaleiable right to have and to hold.
    What deceived mind set would trade his own “God Given” I.D. for a counterfeit copy that “The Corporations” hold the exclusive ownership over.
    Access to the corporate counterfeit copy, “Biometric” is out of and far beyond the control of each and every individual.
    With the corporations “Homeland Insecurity” Chief Michael Chertoff(Translated from Russian means “Of the Devil”) in charge of their I.D. of you the Corporate World of Money will be in fine form to bring their “Myanmar Final Solution” to America in spades.
    Wake up from your slumber “Gullible” before you find yourself completely tied down.

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