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Singapore first in the region to enable face recognition for ATM banking transactions

The introduction of facial biometrics for ATM services by a multinational banking and financial services corporation headquartered in Singapore takes the country closer to eliminating the need to carry around an ATM card, which can be skimmed or stolen.

Account balance enquiries and cash withdrawals are the most used ATM services, making up close to 8 in 10 of all ATM transactions performed by the bank’s customers. Thus, to provide added convenience to customers accessing high-touch ATM services, the Singapore-based bank is the first to tap the country’s National Digital Identity infrastructure, SingPass Face Verification, to securely verify customers for banking transactions at ATMs without the need for ATM cards. A customer’s scanned face is matched and verified against Singapore’s national biometric database containing the images and identities of 4 million Singapore residents.

To use face verification, customers select the ATM service they want before entering their NRIC number on the ATM screen. They will then be prompted to position their face within a frame on the screen, while a specially installed web-enabled camera takes a scan of their face and verifies in real-time the scanned image against the national biometric database which the bank’s ATM network is digitally linked to. Once the facial scan is verified, the customer can proceed with their ATM transaction.

This latest innovation comes after the nation’s first and only rollout of QR code cash withdrawals in July 2019. This new access to ATM banking services is a secure alternative to using physical ATM cards. Face verification is embedded with security features to prevent fraud, including liveness-detection technology that detects and blocks the use of photographs, videos, or masks during the verification process.

Following the roll-out of face verification for balance enquiries and cash withdrawals across the bank’s ATM network, face verification will then extend to other ATM transactions including cash deposits, funds transfers to other banks, cashcard top-ups and credit card bill payments from next year.

The bank’s head of consumer financial services for Singapore said that consumers are keen digital adopters – even the elderly. While cash is still a key mode of payment in Singapore, the digital overlay to get cash is very welcomed by consumers. With many customers already embracing QR cash withdrawals without having to use an ATM card, face verification will add a layer of convenience to more customers as they access banking touchpoints.

Moreover, the same multinational banking and financial services company also leveraged the National Digital Identity infrastructure in July 2020 to introduce an alternative digital login using customers’ SingPass to access digital banking services. This eliminates the need for customers to remember multiple access codes and PINs, and benefits customers who do not use fingerprint or facial biometrics. Within six months, more than one million logins to the bank’s digital banking platforms were performed using SingPass, in place of traditional access codes and PINs.

Also, the multinational banking company says that more than seven million mobile app logins are performed monthly via face or fingerprint biometric authentication. The company was also the first to enable customers to authenticate access to the mobile banking app to access their banking information using their face or fingerprints.

Accordingly, as reported by OpenGov Asia, being a smart nation is not about flaunting glitzy technology but applying technology to solve real problems that will make a difference to people’s lives, and across the whole of society, according to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Singapore has achieved great feats in its smart nation journey and has been able to accelerate it throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The next step in this journey should be to make technology and digital initiatives more inclusive and citizen-friendly.

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