The end may be in sight to identity theft in the country as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) plans to introduce finger-vein biometrics and tie individuals’ phone numbers to International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) as part of the fight against cybercrime and identity fraud.
According to its Director of Payments System Management Department, Mr. Sam Okojere, who dropped the hint in Lagos at the weekend, this is to safeguard the payment system by frustrating the activities of cyber fraudsters.
His words: “We are upgrading the BVN to be the digital identity as far as payment is concerned. We are upgrading the biometric to veins. We are creating and tracing the App for itbecause, depending on the kind of job that you do, the finger tips, unlike the veins, may wear out. So we are lifting the biometric to the vein level so that it will be stronger”.
Finger vein recognition is used in the majority of bank branches in Japan, but Barclays is reportedly the first UK bank to roll out the technology.
Finger vein recognition works by shining an invisible near-infrared light through the finger. The light is absorbed by hemoglobin in the blood of the veins, and the pattern is then captured by a sensor below the finger. As an internal biometric, it is difficult to replicate, and it is insensitive to such factors as dirt, sweat, grease or a surface injury.
As for the IMEI number, Okojere explained that with the initiative, the issue of SIM swap would die a natural death.
“In the next couple of months, the issue of SIM swap will die a natural death. What we are working on is to tie a phone number of individuals to the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity). Even if somebody steals your phone or your SIM card, he cannot use it on another device. Within that phone, we are coming with an App.If somebody steals your phone, go to another person, just send only a code. That thing will distribute to the national security adviser, the payment system, the banks etc. They cant use that number and they cant sell that phone. We are working on that.”
Wikipedia says the IMEI is a number, usually unique, to identify 3GPP and iDEN mobile phones, as well as some satellite phones.
“IMEI numbers have one principal purpose: To identify mobile devices. Their secondary purpose, or intention, is to prevent theft. If a mobile device can be universally identified, a thief cannot change the SIM card on a phone and expect to keep the phone,” the online dictionary explains.
The Finger Vein Authentication Technology (Vein ID), on its part, is technology derived from medical scanning and it is being used by few banks across the globe in the fight against cybercrime and identity fraud. In 2014, Barclays Bank announced its Biometric Reader for corporate banking customers, which uses Hitachi’s Finger Vein Authentication Technology (Vein ID). Vein ID arose out of Hitachi’s extensive research activities in the area of medical scanning.
The Biometric Reader, available to Barclays’s corporate clients can be used to verify a user’s identity when logging on to online banking applications. The reader connects to a computer via USB and provides the user with an interchangeable SIM card for two-factor authentication.
Upon the client’s registration, Barclays Biometric Reader captures three initial images of his or her finger vein pattern, which are coded and encrypted on the SIM card.