SA banks to use fingerprint verification

17 March 2010

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) has entered into a partnership with the Department of Home Affairs that will allow banks in South Africa to conduct online fingerprint verification of bank clients.

In terms of the agreement, the department will allow the banks real time access to the Home Affairs National Identification System (Hanis) for the verification of the identity of prospective and current clients.

“We are very excited about the prospects of this unique project as we anticipate that it will assist the banks in reducing application fraud and identity theft,” Sabric CEO Kalyani Pillay said in a statement this week.

“Banks have a challenge regarding the authentication of the identity of clients given the scale of fraudulent documents in the country.”

Successful pilot project

The first phase of the pilot project was completed in 2009, successfully proving the feasibility of online fingerprint verification of banking clients. The current phase of the project is now looking at the pre-requisites for formally implementing and rolling out access by banks.

“We anticipate that the project will help with the prevention of crimes such as falsified facility applications and account takeover fraud,” said Pillay. “The banking industry is grateful to the department for this opportunity.”

Hanis holds South African citizens’ ID numbers, fingerprints and photos, equipping the banks with the ability to conduct on-the-spot verification of the fingerprints of a client against the information held in Hanis.

“The project symbolises the public-private sector collaboration in combating potential identity crime,” said Home Affairs director-general Mavuso Msimang. “For us this project signifies our stance, as custodians of the South African citizens’ identity, that all necessary steps will be taken to ensure that the integrity of a person’s identity is protected and maintained.

“This initiative marks the beginning of wide ranging cooperation in the interests of society.”

SAinfo reporter

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