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Copyright (c) 2001 University of North Carolina School of Law Banking Institute
North Carolina Banking Institute

NOTES & COMMENTS: IV. TECHNOLOGY "Eyeing" the Future: Surviving the Criticisms of Biometric Authentication

April, 2001

5 N.C. Banking Inst. 421


Robyn Moo-Young


I. Introduction
The problems associated with automated teller machine (ATM) cards and personal identification numbers (PINs) have been plentiful. 1 The stories include tales of stolen pin numbers, fraud, and identity theft. 2 In order to prevent these types of fraud, a move toward a more advanced, individualized technology known as biometrics has developed. 3 Biometrics is used for customer authentication and refers to the application of a certain trait or characteristic as an identifier and verification method. 4 There are several different identifiers that may be used in biometrics including, fingerprinting and hand geometry, voice recognition, retina and iris scans, signature recognition, and facial scans. 5 All of these identifiers are supposed to be unique to the individual, and systems using one or more of these identifiers are designed to protect privacy and prevent fraud. 6

The biometric authentication process involves four steps. 7 First, a particular trait is scanned. 8 Second, those details are converted into a digital code. 9 Third, the code is stored in a database. 10 Fourth, when the customer wants to access her account, she is scanned again on site, and the information from the scan is compared to the code in the system. 11 Biometric technology eliminates carrying a card and reduces the possibility of fraud or theft. 12 Nonetheless, it has been greeted with criticism and doubt. 13

This Note will compare the various methods used as well as the advantages and disadvantages of biometrics. 14
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