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MARINA DEL RAY, Calif. – Biometrics has yet to live up to all the hype, but that doesn’t mean it’s dead just yet. According to the International Biometric Group, global biometrics revenues are expected to jump from $601 million in 2002 to $4.03 billion in 2007. A national study conducted by Search.org found that 85% of consumers would accept biometrics to improve the security of their credit card transactions. While these figures are rosy, it’s been slow to catch on in the financial services arena. Five years ago when biometrics really came on the financial services scene, there were all kinds of James Bond-like predictions of consumers staring at a camera to have their identity matched by an iris scan or facial recognition. The technology is out there to do all that and more, but no major financial services firm has really gone out on a limb with advancing these new technologies on a grand stage. There has been limited usage in the credit union arena. Purdue Employees FCU, West Lafayette, Ind., for example, has had success with biometric kiosks, where members use their fingerprint to gain access to the machines. But as of yet consumers don’t have biometric devices in their homes to gain access to things like home banking, brokerage accounts, aggregation, etc. TouchCredit, a California-based provider of Web-based biometric payment solutions, says however that it is seeing a surge in interest from the financial arena and within the next 12-24 months the big announcements should start coming. Eric Stoltz, director of business development for TouchCredit, says financials can even use biometrics to win new business. Stoltz said TouchCredit has done research that shows if consumers were offered a biometric device such as a fingerprint scanner for free from a financial, most would consider transferring money to that institution if that was the caveat for the free scanner. “Could you imagine a commercial out there offering a biometric device for banking?” said Stoltz. He said the “coolness” factor alone would cause consumers to sign up with the institution. He believes once one or two major players make the move it will cause a wave of financials to move to biometrics for fear of being left behind. The main problem facing biometrics is still the chicken or the egg theory, biometrics style. He said consumers aren’t going to buy a biometric device if there’s nothing to do with it, and application service providers aren’t going to offer it to consumers if they’re not getting anything out of it. If a credit union came out with a biometric offering for a member to access their home banking account, it would face the cost of getting the hardware to the members. That’s why Stoltz believes CUs should use the “coolness” of biometrics to entice consumers to move balances to the credit union. That way the consumer gets free hardware, and the CU adds business. Stoltz says financials, especially CUs, can learn the same lesson from biometrics that they did from online banking – it promotes loyalty. One of TouchCredit’s main products is BioApp which essentially takes a merchant’s check-out page on the Web and adds a biometric security feature to verify the user’s identity. Studies show consumers are abandoning check-out pages because of security fears. A Gartner Group study found that 63% of consumers fear putting check information online. With no major biometric initiative out there right now from a financial, Stoltz believes one way to make it happen is cut down on some of the costs and the logistics of getting consumers devices. While TouchCredit doesn’t provide the hardware or any devices for biometrics, it does provide a biometric verification processing platform that he says can integrate any biometrics devices. The company is hoping to tap existing devices that exist in most Americans’ homes to kick start biometrics. One is the keyboard. TouchCredit can look at a person’s typing pattern to positively identify them, or use a computer’s microphone to do voice recognition. These are devices that wouldn’t have to be delivered to consumers. Stoltz said a large bank or credit union will soon break the barrier, and biometrics will become the norm for financial transactions. [email protected]

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