Biometrics: the key to more secure and efficient ATMs in retail

Biometrics-enabled ATMs have a key role to play in promoting more secure retail environments and enhancing accessibility to financial services in South Africa. That’s the word from Patience Rolls, executive head of cash and ATMs at EasyPay Cash, one of the automated cash management solutions offerings at Cash Connect, and part of Lesaka Technologies.

“There has been a shift to online shopping and digital payments among some consumers, enabled by technology which our company supports. But there are also many people who still prefer to use cash. It’s essential to streamline and digitalise the experience for these customers rather than forcing them into alternatives which don’t suit their needs,” said Rolls.

For retailers installing a smart retail ATM recycler, built to SABS category 4 standards, it’s like putting a bank in their store. Retailers don’t need to leave their premises to manually bank their cash to get value in their bank account. Retailers not only reduce their risk but can also earn a rebate from each successful cardholder cash withdrawal.

Yet, despite the financial services sector’s success in reducing ATM crime through educational campaigns, ATM fraud schemes such as card swopping, card skimming and Lebanese loop (use of a device which blocks the ATM’s card slot so any inserted card is apparently retained by the machine) are still commonplace. The victims of these crimes are often the most vulnerable members of society.

The success of such fraudulent schemes depends on the criminal’s ability to get their hands on the victim’s card (or a cloned version) and their Pin code. Biometrics can eliminate this vulnerability by replacing Pin code authentication with a unique physical characteristic of the cardholder, such as their voice, iris or fingerprints, Rolls said. 

Reducing the risks of lost, forgotten and stolen Pins

Biometrics like fingerprints are linked to a single individual, unlike a password, which can be used without authorisation. Fingerprints are the biometrics authentication option of choice in South Africa because fingerprint scanners are accurate, robust and highly fraud resistant. They are a proven and mature technology that has been used for a range of use cases for years.

EasyPay Everywhere ATMs pioneered the use of fingerprint biometrics for child grant payments and has deployed fingerprint biometric solutions for all customers since 2007, with a special focus on the illiterate, differently abled groups, the elderly and small business merchants.

EasyPay Everywhere has deployed thousands of ATMs in retail environments nationwide. This brings financial services to the doorstep of some 1.4 million EasyPay Everywhere clients, many of whom are social grants recipients living in remote or rural areas and otherwise financially excluded people. Such services are key for the 47% of South Africans who rely on grants for their living.

A more efficient retail environment

Connect Group, part of Lesaka Technologies Inc, offers robust automated cash management as part of a portfolio of fintech solutions. EasyPay cash-branded ATM recyclers are a key part of its “best-of-both worlds” offering. The EasyPay Cash ATM Recycler, an all-in-one retail cash vault, dispenser and recycler, enables cashiers to deposit cash-on-site and customers to fulfil banking services from one device.

Because the ATM acts as a recycler, the retailer can minimise cash-in-transit visits and reduce cash processing costs. In addition, it enables retailers to earn rebates from each successful cash withdrawal to potentially cover the monthly rental of the device. The EasyPay Cash ATM Recycler is designed specifically to accept bulk cashier deposits quickly.

The biometric functionality enables cashiers to cash-and-dash, allowing for quick and seamless cash deposits, and also increases accountability among staff when making cash drops. Once a retailer deposits cash into the cash vault or ATM recycler, Cash Connect guarantees the funds in the retailer’s bank account on the same day or next day, with an immediate risk transfer to streamline daily cash handling.

“Our biometric solutions make EasyPay Cash ATMs safer and easier to use—a game-changer for security and efficiency in retail environments,” said Rolls. “EasyPay Everywhere customers can use their biometrics instead of Pins. Retailers benefit from reduced cost and risk of handling cash, while providing a valuable service to their customers.”