The increase in identity fraud has culminated in a decision by South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs to allow Capitec Bank access to its database. The bank will now be able to verify the identity of its customers across both databases almost instantly.

Capitec Bank will use fingerprint and photographic assets it obtained when a customer opened a bank account, against the Home Affairs database, created to support the launch of the new biometric ID card, whenever the customer walks into a branch for service. The customer’s fingerprints will be used in the place of a signature. This process will be followed each time a customer makes important changes to their information.

This announcement comes hot on the heels of Standard Bank’s report yesterday that its mobile banking app now recognises fingerprint authentication.

Carl Fischer, Executive of Marketing and Corporate Affairs of Capitec Bank, gave the example of a client’s card being stolen by a fraudster who then attempts to transact in the branch using a false ID. The customer’s money will be safe, Fischer says, as the fraudster will not be authenticated by the fingerprint facility of both databases.

Fischer says fingerprint identification will also save the money as no paper will be required for transactions.

“The biometric system has been implemented in our branches and demonstrates how we use innovative technology to enhance security while driving down costs and making client access simpler and easier. By partnering with Home Affairs we are now making it virtually impossible for identity thieves to target our customers,” he said in a media statement.

Collaboration between banks and government departments does raise questions about privacy and how personal information will be protected as fraud is not always the act of people outside such institutions.

Capitec Bank says that staff members who conduct a transaction for a customer, will be linked to the specific transaction in order to try and fraud from within the bank itself. Home Affairs had not responded to questions about this partnership by close of their working hours on Friday afternoon.

[Image – CC by 3.0/Rachmaninoff]