HSBC bank uses facial recognition

HSBC claims to have become the first bank in the UK to use facial recognition technology to improve security at its data centres following successful trials at its offices in Canary Wharf.

The bank will be installing ten facial biometric access control units in two new data centres in the UK over the next six to nine months in a bid to protect sensitive information that might otherwise be vulnerable to loss or misuse.

The move comes at a time when identity theft is now the fastest growing crime in the UK – affecting more than 100,000 people at a cost of £1.7m according to Home Office figures.

Recent high profile cases of sensitive data being lost by financial and also public sector organisations has highlighted the risk to individuals and to the reputation of the organisations concerned.

Recognizing this problem, HSBC has been co-operating with UK facial biometric company OmniPerception to develop a more secure access control system for their new data centres. The bank has worked closely with the company in testing and developing the right solution, based onOmni’s CheckPoint facial recognition product.

First deployed in police applications, in Liverpool, London and elsewhere, OmniPerception’s biometric solutions are now being applied to access control, data protection and the improvement of identity management generally.

After extensive field trials at HSBC’s Canary Wharf offices, the CheckPoint system will be installed at access points as a way of verifying the identity of staff and external contractors who need access to areas containing sensitive information.

John Williams, Head of Physical Risk at HSBC said: “We decided to use biometrics to protect our high vulnerability inner sanctums such as communication suites and data halls.”

In explaining his choice of a facial biometric solution, he said: “To gain acceptance from the user, a biometric needs to be as non-intrusive as possible. One natural thing human beings always rely on is to be recognised by someone they know. It’s far more natural than say, getting your eye scanned or gently moving your finger across a reader to get yourself identified”

He announced the bank’s intention to install ten CheckPoint facial biometric access control units in various IT facilities in the UK; and anticipated their wider deployment to other sites in the future.