Biometric recognition for ATM cards could be a thing of the future

SINGAPORE - Biometric recognition for ATM cards could be a thing of the future.

The Monetary Association of Singapore (MAS) has been working with the financial institutions on card security enhancements since 2010 - and one of its objectives is to figure out ways to reduce the risks associated the magnetic strips on ATM cards.

Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam was responding to a question from Member of Parliament, Ms Ellen Lee, in Parliament today.

Ms Lee asked about the possibility of MAS requiring banks to use fingerprint or biometric recognition to replace magnetic strips in ATM cards.

While the Minister did not rule out the possibility, he said a number of security features are already in place for credit and debit cards transactions such as one-time passwords and SMS alerts.

He said: "The industry has evaluated various options, including biometrics, to upgrade the overall security architecture of ATM systems.

"In deciding which security technology to adopt, ABS has taken into account security, reliability, convenience, costs, ease of use and cross-border interoperability," he added.    

Following the recent incident of ATM fraud, banks will be de-activating the ATM card magnetic stripe for overseas use by June this year.

When that happens, cardholders will have to contact their banks should they wish to activate the ATM card magnectic stripe before going overseas.

The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) recently announced that banks will adopt EMV standards - a chip card technology - for payment cards used in ATM systems by 2014.

"The timeline to move away from magnetic stripe is in line with those in other developed jurisdictions such as Australia and countries in the European Union," he said.