Magazine article American Banker

Few See Stigma in Fingerprinting, Survey Indicates

Magazine article American Banker

Few See Stigma in Fingerprinting, Survey Indicates

Article excerpt

Magnetic-stripe payment cards are outmoded. The solution - turning them into smart cards with embedded computer chips - is well on the way.

And as the magnetic stripe presumably fades into oblivion, such conventional wisdom holds, so too should personal identification numbers those precarious, easily compromised links between cardholders and their plastic.

Replacements for PINs abound in the biometric realm: signature verification, voice recognition, retinal and iris scans, hand geometry, and finger imaging. All have been technically proven. The last is probably the most familiar and closest to being commercially viable in volume transaction settings like banking and retailing, but for the nagging argument that it smacks of Big Brother, that a privacy-obsessed public would recoil or rebel.

Not true, according to a poll last July by Opinion Research Corp. of Princeton, N.J. Clear majorities of the more than 1,000 representative adults in the telephone survey responded favorably to several questions posed about fingerprinting. And these questions had to do with maintaining the prints in central data bases; storage of people's prints only in their own pockets, on smart cards, would presumably be less of a concern.

The survey was commissioned by National Registry Inc. of St. Petersburg, Fla., a vendor of finger-imaging technology and hardly a disinterested party. But to establish credibility, NRI used an independent research firm and retained Alan F. Westin, a Columbia University law professor and renowned expert on privacy issues, as adviser on the project. A summary of results was published in the October-November edition of Mr. …

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