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A mainstay in everyday life, with more than 50 years since its widespread introduction, the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) is participating in the shift towards edge computing. ATMs have grown increasingly sophisticated in terms of access and functionality, and the edge’s inherent benefits of distributed processing and associated reduction in processing latency can help continue this enhancement trajectory.

One of the new capabilities ATMs may offer banks and their customers is biometric authentication. Let’s see what this and other expanded ATM functionalities may mean for banks and their customers. 

The ATM is a connected device

From the bank’s perspective, the ATM is an increasingly connected device, which is critical to collect and verify customer data. ATMs can help banks with the parallel goals of providing information on actual and predicted customer use, real-time operational status, and security levels (including incidents of tampering or vandalism).  

As with many edge devices, capabilities and updates (firmware, patches, etc.) can be remotely enabled. Another administrative functionality is that ATMs can interface with edge routers and necessary communications infrastructure linking to back-end payments networks and associated management consoles.

As ATM functionality grows in breadth and sophistication, they could extend beyond traditional check and cash deposits to additional services traditionally performed with a person at the financial institution. This might include loan applications and person-to-person payments and more. 

Out-of-branch ATMs, which might be independently operated, could see increased for-a-fee service offerings, like adding funds to gift cards or mobile phone accounts. Due to their data-rich demands, all of these offerings require expansion of localized data processing capacity—once again illustrating applicability of edge processing.

ATM Biometric authentication - edge processing needed, but worth it 

While the features and capabilities of ATMs are on the upswing, the principal experience is centered on the initial responsive access and verification of customer identity to be able to perform more traditional functions like cash dispensing, account balance verification, inter-account transfers, etc. 

We’d like to focus on an emergent edge use case: the enablement of biometric authentication and access, which has a potential increase of security and capability.

An edge enabled device—one where computing power shifts away from a centralized network and processing of data occurs closer to the originating source to provide a positive experience—needs to exhibit low network latency within the conduct of the transaction to avoid user frustration. 

As biometric authentication can include facial recognition or fingerprint technology, the interplay of the customer and ATM itself during a biometric authentication process requires localized processing. 

Despite increased processing requirements arising by using this new capability, the benefits associated with biometric authentication may make this form of identification superior to the "tried and true" method of password authentication. 

Simply put, they are based on "information the customer knows" rather than unique attributes about who the customers are. While no means of identity authentication is foolproof, with biometric authentication at the ATM, the threat may be diminished. 

Drawing of a government building, credit card, and browser Biometrics in action: a leading European bank’s innovative ATM implementation

In July 2020, Red Hat worked with a leading European bank to complete a nationwide deployment of ATMs containing biometric access, featuring ATMs fitted with commercially-adopted facial recognition technology. 

This authentication system has a sufficient level of security to enable users to make withdrawals without having to manually enter a PIN. To achieve this, the ATMs are equipped with cameras and imaging software capable of validating up to 15,000+ points on the customer’s face, thereby guaranteeing full and correct identification. 

This deployment was timely, as users were more reluctant (or were not allowed) to enter physical branch locations amidst COVID-19, raising the importance of ATM access—especially one where physical contact with machine surfaces can be reduced.

Proven solutions allow edge computing benefits

Banks rely on gaining and maintaining trust with their customers—and finding ways to continue that bond will make them more competitive in the future. Whether an enhanced user experience, greater security, or increased functional elements, an edge computing implementation can contribute to those realizations. 

 We invite you to explore  more possibilities and solutions associated with Red Hat’s approach to edge computing at this resource

About the author

Described as a pioneer and one of the most influential people by CRMPower, Fiona McNeill has worked alongside some of the largest global organizations, helping them derive tangible benefit from the strategic application of technology to real-world business scenarios.

During her 25 year professional tenure, she has led teams, product strategy, marketing, and consulted across a wide range of industries, while at SAS, IBM Global Services, and others. McNeill co-authored Heuristics in Analytics with Dr. Carlos Andre Pinheiro, has previously published both in academic and business journals, and has served on the board of the Cognitive Computing Consortium. She received her M.A. in Quantitative Behavioral Geography from McMaster University and graduated with a B.Sc. in Bio-Physical Systems, University of Toronto.

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