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Banking ID


By Fil C. Sionil

Exploring the great expanse of cutting-edge information technology (IT), the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) plans to introduce banking identification (ID) using biometrics such as iris-access and facial recognition.

Sounds familiar? Well, it’s the technology used by Apple in its latest and much awaited iPhone X, which uses facial recognition technology for unlocking, with the owner simply looking at the smartphone.

I had it from a reliable market source that banking ID is a pet project of BDO Universal Bank President and the concurrent BAP top honcho Nestor V. Tan with BAP committee on operations Chair Abraham T. Co, president and director of Asia United Bank.

A little research showed that the facial recognition system has been around since the 1960s with Woodrow Wilson Bledshoe dubbed as the father. This biometric computer application verifies a person from a digital image  compared to facial database. It was  first used for security purposes. But was only in the 1990s and at the turn of the millennium that its potential was maximized following the rapid development of IT.

Actually, Union Bank of the Philippines already uses facial recognition in its online banking. Embedded in its operations is selfie banking which allows customers to log into their account by simply taking a selfie on their EON mobile application. EON uses state-of-the-art face recognition technology as the password for online banking. Passwords are more  easily compromised. Union Bank Senior Vice President and head of EON banking Paolo Eugenio Baltao explains taking a selfie as an authentication process is designed to protect customers from the escalating threats to cybersecurity.

Although it is still in the drawing board stage, the concept of having a banking ID is for added security, aside, of course, from the personal identification number (PIN). Like passwords, PIN is also exposed to the danger of hacking.

Tons of work still need to be done for this project–the framework and the platform to be used have yet to be firmed up and decided by the BAP board. BAP maProtection from cybersecurity is the primary reason behind the BAP initiative. Facial recognition is an additional feature for ATM (automated teller machine) card holders. Also consider iris-access recognition, which has been described as faster and is resistant to false matches. While some major companies in the country use fingerprint biometrics, others are already using iris-access recognition technology, replacing the iconic bundy clock to track down the arrival and departure of their workforce.

“It’s a step-by-step process. It’s a work in progress,” says my source.

There’s also the cost to be considered. But the cost is said to outweigh the benefits that could be derived should this is  super-cool BAP initiative come into fruition. Another  idea is putting in basic information data. But, of course, cybersecurity is the primary reason behind the BAP initiative – whether it be the adoption of facial recognition or iris-access as an additional feature for ATM (automated teller machine) card holders, it is a welcome move in the aftermath of recent ATM fraud incidents.  It may very well minimize, if not altogether, prevent sham transactions.

And from what I heard from the marketplace, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is supportive of Mr. Tan’s brainchild.

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