Future of Banking: Digital Thumbprints as Authentic Signatures


By: Sero Darigho


Since the evolution of conventional banking, the fingers of customers have never been as important as it is today. Aside your fingers being functional in unlocking doors and phones and signing signatures, they even secure bank savings. Thumbprint scanners are considered the second most popular biometric devices by consumers around the world according to research undertaken by the 2016 Future Password Index. This research was defined by how interested people were in using fingerprints to verify their identity when handling their devices, banking and other forms of security. Thumbprint biometrics solutions witnessed steady rise in popularity from 2014 to 2016 and remain one of the most trusted on the market today mainly because signatures are eternally exclusive per identity.

As a finance expert working in the tech space, (a Biometrics and identity management company), I can authentically state that the phenomenon of digital thumbprints as authentic signatures is a rising trend that won’t change anytime soon. This is underscored by the rise in biometric registrations, moves to integrate national databases, touch-pad automations, use of thumbprint scanners, ATMs, devices and general innovative tech solutions.

Bank heads are also coming to grasps with this new reality, that the bank customer’s thumbprint has become a ‘coded key’ to ease processes, save cost on expenses, fast-track onboarding, validate identities and boost bottomline. BioRegistra is a biometric software that helps any discerning business boost business via this ‘coded key’. BioRegistra is a wholly indigenous developed solution used by individuals, organizations, in industries that need to gather data, using forms and biometrics, to make data driven decisions.

Yes, people are being asked for their thumbprints on a daily basis; at work, during bank transactions, application for statutory documents, national identity registrations etc. Thus, the revolution of digital thumbprints as authentic signatures is mutually exclusive. See other scenarios below:

Airport Security: Imagine that flight check-in or identification in Nigerian airports happen simply by digital thumbprint verification matched against the immigration database, all in less than 10 seconds. The technology for this already exists on the Seamfix KYC platform stack. This works where data and available biometric technologies are deployed to verify passenger identities. These ideas are already being utilised to forestall security breaches in several large international airports and the technology is quickly spreading to other locations across the globe. Using the technology fast-tracks passengers journey through airport terminals. They make life easy and security searches very seamless.

Time and Attendance: the workplace is fast changing, especially workforce management. This field has witnessed increase in the use of biometrics to manage cases such as “fraudulent employee time and attendance activities”. These are common phenomenon among civil servants where productivity is unsatisfactory compared to private firms. In 2005, for instance, the American government set a goal to reduce their dependency on foreign crude oil from 60% of their total need to 30% by 2015 and 0% by 2020. One of their key follow-through mechanisms is the perfecting of the tracking technology to access their Shale Oil. Today, America’s daily production has increased from 5.4 million barrels in 2005 per day to 9.3 million barrels per day as at the end of 2015. Fast-forward to Nigeria, various governments hyped one vision or the other, but here we seem to still be spinning helplessly. We may tend to blame this on lack of bad leadership, but let’s look at the poor attitude to punctuality. It is high time, collectively, ‘African Time’ malaise is fought with technology. Biometrics even play a fundamental role in the criminal justice system.

Back to banking – transaction authentication, thumbprints-biometrics has increased a great deal in the past few years and is being implemented by banks throughout the globe. As global financial entities become more digitally-based, banks are implementing biometric technology to improve customer and employee identity management in an effort to combat fraud, increase transaction security, and enhance customer convenience.

However, not all thumbprint systems are created equal. There are important differences between specific systems, their capabilities, the data they access and the data they share.

“Some biometric solutions are not linked to a shared network, so you could transact at your bank or enter your office park with your unique identity, but this information will not be shared anywhere else. The data is captured and secured by each individual system to ensure absolute security and controlled access”.

In simple terms, with biometric verification you are asking – ‘Am I who I claim to be?’ For example, once your thumbprint has been submitted to a specific database, an identification application would compare it against a larger database of thumbprints that are associated with identities. If your thumb/fingerprint is found within that database, then the question of ‘Who am I?’ has been answered.  This is biometric identification in a very simple nutshell.

On the other hand, when it comes to biometric verification and proving an identity, there is a need to add in some extra factors that can support the process and make it more secure. These can be account numbers, credit cards, or even smart devices.

This implies that the system pulls up such biometric data associated with your thumbprint and attempts to make a match. It’s important to note that the verification process doesn’t examine all thumbprint data for all users to find a match. Instead it checks to see if the thumbprint template that’s presented to the system is the same one that was originally enrolled, and it provides a quick answer.

Thus, banks and the clearing houses like Interswitch can’t afford not to deploy biometrics solution that carefully captures all forms of data and for seamless usage. One solution that does this very well is BioRegistra which offers support for business decisions, export to platforms of your choice, generate CRM reports to enhance customer relationship, and so much more.

As a Biometrics and identity management company, Seamfix runs a stack of home-grown Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and verification platforms including BioRegistra, Verified.ng, BioSmart etc. The platforms are flexible, customisable and user-centric in data capture, verification and analysis, and have been used by several sectors including telecommunication giants, real estate, banks, agro-allied institutions, education, security, governments, international agencies etc

Banks have CBN mandate to carry out ‘Know-Your-Customer (KYC)’ audit of customers., hence BVN. However more can be done with this data from digital thumbprints, benefits like Validating the authenticity of ID’s provided by individuals, Verifying the ID status against issuing bodies, Automation and electronic thumbprints, Simplify account opening process with selfies and ID number, Verifying the customer’s identity, banking the unbanked from anywhere, Faster TAT for customer account opening, authentic detail captured by their field agents that pass the regulators’ specifications etc. Contemporary technology is cloud-based and a form of security for digital thumbprints and Bio-Signatures, plus being in retrievable format integrated to the Bank’s CRM for their subsequent Customer follow up and marketing activities easily.

As an advocate of local content, a major bank customer and proponent of efficient use of technology, digital thumbprints as authentic signatures in this case; the Seamfix KYC solutions (BioRegistra, Verified.ng, BioSmart) are highly recommended to banks and other financial institutions like insurance and microfinance banks.

The future of banking rests firmly on technology. For today, it is in using digital thumbprints as authentic signatures.  It is time for banks to invest in the future and prospects of data, use functional platforms to verify and capture data for KYC and other requirements, get digitally ahead of competition and stay relevant to the clients, ‘Out with the old, in with the New’, the new future.

Sero Darigho sdarigho@seamfix.com