OCBC bank enables facial biometric verification for ATM transactions

facial biometric verification

Singapore-based OCBC Bank announced on Thursday that they have enabled facial biometric verification on several of their ATMs across the country, eliminating the need to carry ATM cards, which can be skimmed or stolen.

According to the bank, the first transaction which can be performed using face verification on OCBC Bank ATMs is account balance enquiries, which will be first rolled out on eight ATMs around Singapore. OCBC Bank will extend face verification for cash withdrawals to all OCBC Bank ATMs in Singapore progressively.

This latest innovation comes following the nation’s first and only rollout of QR code cash withdrawals back in July 2019.

“Account balance enquiries and cash withdrawals are the most used ATM services, making up close to 8 in 10 of all ATM transactions performed by OCBC Bank customers. Thus, to provide added convenience to customers accessing high-touch ATM services, OCBC Bank is the first to tap Singapore’s National Digital Identity infrastructure, SingPass Face Verification, to securely verify customers for banking transactions at ATMs without the need for ATM cards,” the OCBC said in a statement.

The bank explained that a customer’s face would be scanned to be matched and verified against Singapore’s national biometric database containing the images and identities of 4 million Singapore residents.

This convenient access to ATM banking services is a secure alternative to using physical ATM cards. Face verification is embedded with security features to prevent fraud, including liveness-detection technology that detects and blocks the use of photographs, videos, or masks during the verification process.

“Singapore consumers are keen digital adopters – even the elderly. While cash is still a key mode of payment in Singapore, the digital overlay to get cash is very welcomed by consumers. Overall, digital adoption within OCBC has grown year-on-year in 2020 with more than 40 percent more customers signed up on PayNow, and PayNow transactions doubling, compared to 2019,” Sunny Quek, OCBC Bank’s Head of Consumer Financial Services Singapore said.

Quek further highlighted that QR code cash withdrawals at ATMs grew 88 percent year-on-year in 2020. With many customers already embracing QR cash withdrawals without having to use an ATM card, while noting that “face verification will add a layer of convenience to more customers as they access our banking touchpoints.”

Despite the significant increase in digital banking adoption among OCBC Bank customers, with more than 200,000 digital ‘debutantes’ making their first digital banking transactions in 2020, ATM usage remains high with more than two million cash withdrawals monthly, OCBC explained.

To use face verification at an OCBC Bank ATM, customers select the ATM service they want before entering their NRIC number on the ATM screen.

They will then be prompted to position their face within a frame on the screen, while a specially installed web-enabled camera takes a scan of their face and verifies in real time the scanned image against the national biometric database which OCBC Bank’s ATM network is digitally linked to. Once the facial scan is verified, the customer can proceed with their ATM transaction.

Following the roll out of face verification for balance enquiries and cash withdrawals across OCBC Bank’s ATM network, face verification will then extend to other ATM transactions including cash deposits, funds transfers to other banks, cashcard top-ups and credit card bill payments from next year.

It is important to note that OCBC Bank was the first to enable customers to authenticate access to the mobile banking app to access their banking information using their face or fingerprints. It does so by leveraging the country’s National Digital Identity infrastructure to introduce an alternative digital login using customers’ SingPass to access digital banking services.

This eliminates the need for customers to remember multiple access codes and PINs, and benefits customers who do not use fingerprint or facial biometric verification.

“Within six months, more than one million logins to OCBC Bank’s digital banking platforms were performed using SingPass, in place of traditional access codes and PINs,” the statement said.