Rushikulya Gramya Bank in the Indian state of Orissa soon may become the first regional rural bank to issue debit cards to its customers that require biometric authentication, an official from the bank tells PaymentsSource.

Users of the cards will have to withdraw cash from their accounts using fingerprint verification. Bank correspondents will travel from village to village with print-image readers to provide the service, according to the official. Once the readers authenticate the print image, the correspondents will provide the customer the cash requested.

The cards also may come with a magnetic stripe so customers may use them at Andhra Bank’s ATMs, the official adds. Hyderabad-based Andhra Bank sponsors Rushikulya Gramya, meaning it will fund and supports the bank’s expansion until it can reach the size of a commercial bank.

The bank plans to develop the biometric service in association with Andhra Bank.

“We will launch these cards after implementation of the Core Banking Solution in all our 81 branches,” The official says. “This should be complete by March 2011.”

Core Banking Solution involves networking branches to enable customers to manage their accounts and to use banking services from any branch in the network. The Reserve Bank of India had asked all the regional rural banks across the country in January to have Core Banking Solution facilities by the end of September 2011.

Rushikulya Gramya operates in the poorer districts of Orissa, where literacy levels are quite low, according to the official. “Hence, we decided to launch biometric ATM cards,” he says.

In India, fingerprint images serve as an alternate form of authentication for illiterate citizens unable to read directions on conventional ATMs or sign checks.


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