Tuesday, July 11, 2006

KUTV Salt Lake City on PBT

kutv.com - Zions Customers Can Cash Checks With A Finger Scan

SALT LAKE CITY Zions First National Bank is rolling out finger scanners for check-cashing security and other banking transactions. Zions Bank set up scanners at a dozen branch offices in Utah and Idaho where customers can volunteer to enroll in the program, identifying themselves by geometric patterns on an index finger.

Non-customers also can sign up to cash a payroll or government check for a 1.5 percent fee. People like the convenience and security, said LeeAnne Linderman, Zions’ executive vice president and director of branch banking. Zions hopes the system, which went up without fanfare a week ago, will cut down on fraudulent check-cashing, and it plans to roll it out at other branches after a series of monthly reviews.

“The more consumers feel comfortable with biometrics, the more you’ll see it in various applications,” said John Hall, a spokesman for the 8,000-member American Bankers Association. “Customers always want their transactions to go through quickly, and perhaps this will allow for that and more security.” Hall, other banks and a banking analyst weren’t aware of any other bank using fingerprint biometrics for regular transactions, and San Francisco-based Pay By Touch said Zions was the first bank using its system.

About 350 banks in North America, including Zions, are using hand geometry systems to clear customers into safe-deposit vaults. Some foreign banks operate ATMs that use finger, iris or hand-palm scans. Finger scanners are being used at checkout stands of some major grocery chains so customers can pay for items with just a touch of a finger, said Gary Bradt, a vice president for Silex Technology America Inc., which makes the devices mostly for computer and laptop security.

You don’t have to give up you actual fingerprints for these systems, which record a geometric pattern or a few characteristics of index fingers. When Zions customers show up at a teller’s booth, they just press an index finger onto a reader, which brings up account information on the teller’s computer screen. Zions also is beefing up security for online transactions, said Preston Wood, senior vice president for information security for Zions Bancorporation. Customers can arrange to see a unique image or picture when they log into Zions’ Web site to make sure they aren’t calling up an impostor site designed by identity thieves. The new security will monitor customers’ banking transactions and computer preferences to look for any aberration that could indicate fraud, said Amir Orad, a marketing vice president for RSA Security of Bedford, Mass., which developed the behind-the-curtain changes for Zions.

Zions operates more than 450 branch offices in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Texas and Washington. It introduced the finger scanners at branch offices in Salt Lake City and other Utah locations in Park City, Price, Provo, Midvale, Ogden and West Valley City. The Zions Express system also is being used at Idaho branches in Caldwell and Burley.

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