Bank of Thailand biometric security pilot hits a snag

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None of the 10 financial institutions in the Bank of Thailand's electronic know your customer verification test have completed the trial, raising a red flag for the myriad biometric risk projects underway.

Biometrics are making a splash as numerous banks and financial institutions test various forms for payments and e-KYC. Last November Intesa Sanpaolo and Fingerprints AB launched a biometric payment card pilot in Italy that would use fingerprints. Meanwhile Chinese payments firm Alipay is already on its second version of facial biometrics called Dragonfly to verify customer identities when making payments through its network.

In Thailand, the central bank is exploring the adoption of biometrics as a way of improving overall banking security as it experiences a boom in electronic payments and money transfers. The pilot is composed of 10 commercial banks and non-bank financial institutions.

According to the Chinese news publication Xinhua.net the Thai central bank is using its regulatory sandbox, where developers can create new solutions in a trusted environment, to initially verify a customer’s identity when opening a savings account.

When a company can successfully implement a biometric technology in Bank of Thailand’s sandbox environment that it does not need further future approvals when applying the biometric technology to payments, money transfers and other financial applications.

Siritida Panomwan, assistant governor for payment systems policy and financial technology group at the Bank of Thailand, told the news outlet the Bank of Thailand the Bank of Thailand anticipates that participants will finish the biometric test before the end of fourth quarter. But the central bank still needs to roll out policies, regulations and criteria to ensure a smooth and problem-free operation before e-KYC goes into effect.

The Bank of Thailand has experienced a rush of license applications recently, granting permission to roughly 100 financial institutions to conduct electronic payments within the country. Panomwan also reported that the central bank is expecting to see more new operators applying for licenses in the next few years.

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