28 March 2006

Banking in the 21st Century

I've just got a message on my phone. Tomorrow morning I've got to meet Chris with my passport so that we can get a banker's draft drawn up. It got me thinking. Roll on reliable biometrics. A passport and a utility bill seem to have become the standardised requirement for banking transactions these days. Has it decreased fraud? Has it trapped illegal movement of funds? Does it deter money launderers? It's a bit like the security check before a flight - that strikes me as activity for activity's sake and I'm deeply unconvinced that it adds much security at all.

One problem for the bank is that the utility bill is going the way of the Dodo. My phone and power bills are online so I don't get a snail mail version sent home. If I produce a hard copy print out of a bill which sits in my email, who is to know that I haven't changed data on there before it is viewed at the bank? With reliable biometrics that wouldn't be an issue - but most of the material I have seen on biometrics seems to suggest that automated interpretation of results (facial shape, iris recognition) isn't sufficiently reliable at acceptable cost to provide instantaneous fool-proof ID without an unacceptable level of false results. That probably means that the cost is unacceptable because the performance isn't acceptable, I digress ...

The bankers draft? We're importing some Champagne. I would like to say that we are celebrating but it's actually a business deal and the banker's draft is to pay for the import duty. Once the duty is pre-paid you can arrange for the import in a couple of weeks.

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