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An ATM With An Eye

Published on Jan 21, 2016


There is an urgent need for improving security in banking region. With the advent of ATM though banking became a lot easier it even became a lot vulnerable. The chances of misuse of this much hyped 'insecure' baby product (ATM) are manifold due to the exponential growth of 'intelligent' criminals day by day. ATM systems today use no more than an access card and PIN for identity verification.

This situation is unfortunate since tremendous progress has been made in biometric identification techniques, including finger printing, retina scanning, and facial recognition. This paper proposes the development of a system that integrates facial recognition technology into the identity verification process used in ATMs. The development of such a system would serve to protect consumers and financial institutions alike from fraud and other breaches of security.

The rise of technology in India has brought into force many types of equipment that aim at more customer satisfaction. ATM is one such machine which made money transactions easy for customers to bank. The other side of this improvement is the enhancement of the culprit's probability to get his 'unauthentic' share. Traditionally, security is handled by requiring the combination of a physical access card and a PIN or other password in order to access a customer's account. This model invites fraudulent attempts through stolen cards, badly-chosen or automatically assigned PINs, cards with little or no encryption schemes, employees with access to non-encrypted customer account information and other points of failure.

This proposes an automatic teller machine security model that would combine a physical access card, a PIN, and electronic facial recognition. By forcing the ATM to match a live image of a customer's face with an image stored in a bank database that is associated with the account number, the damage to be caused by stolen cards and PINs is effectively neutralized. Only when the PIN matches the account and the live image and stored image match would a user be considered fully verified.

The main issues faced in developing such a model are keeping the time elapsed in the verification process to a negligible amount, allowing for an appropriate level of variation in a customer's face when compared to the database image, and that credit cards which can be used at ATMs to withdraw funds are generally issued by institutions that do not have in-person contact with the customer, and hence no opportunity to acquire a photo.Because the system would only attempt to match two (and later, a few) discrete images, searching through a large database of possible matching candidates would be unnecessary.

The process would effectively become an exercise in pattern matching, which would not require a great deal of time. With appropriate lighting and robust learning software, slight variations could be accounted for in most cases. Further, a positive visual match would cause the live image to be stored in the database so that future transactions would have a broader base from which to compare if the original account image fails to provide a match - thereby decreasing false negatives.

When a match is made with the PIN but not the images, the bank could limit transactions in a manner agreed upon by the customer when the account was opened, and could store the image of the user for later examination by bank officials. In regards to bank employees gaining access to customer PINs for use in fraudulent transactions, this system would likewise reduce that threat to exposure to the low limit imposed by the bank and agreed to by the customer on visually unverifiable transactions.


The first and most important step of this project will be to locate a powerful open-source facial recognition program that uses local feature analysis and that is targeted at facial verification. This program should be compilable on multiple systems, including Linux and Windows variants, and should be customizable to the extent of allowing for variations in processing power of the machines onto which it would be deployed.

We will then need to familiarize ourselves with the internal workings of the program so that we can learn its strengths and limitations. Simple testing of this program will also need to occur so that we could evaluate its effectiveness. Several sample images will be taken of several individuals to be used as test cases – one each for “account” images, and several each for “live” images, each of which would vary pose, lighting conditions, and expressions.

Once a final program is chosen, we will develop a simple ATM black box program. This program will server as the theoretical ATM with which the facial recognition software will interact. It will take in a name and password, and then look in a folder for an image that is associated with that name. It will then take in an image from a separate folder of “live” images and use the facial recognition program to generate a match level between the two. Finally it will use the match level to decide whether or not to allow “access”, at which point it will terminate. All of this will be necessary, of course, because we will not have access to an actual ATM or its software.

Both pieces of software will be compiled and run on a Windows XP and a Linux system. Once they are both functioning properly, they will be tweaked as much as possible to increase performance (decreasing the time spent matching) and to decrease memory footprint.

Following that, the black boxes will be broken into two components – a server and a client – to be used in a two-machine network. The client code will act as a user interface, passing all input data to the server code, which will handle the calls to the facial recognition software, further reducing the memory footprint and processor load required on the client end. In this sense, the thin client architecture of many ATMs will be emulated.

We will then investigate the process of using the black box program to control a USB camera attached to the computer to avoid the use of the folder of “live” images. Lastly, it may be possible to add some sort of DES encryption to the client end to encrypt the input data and decrypt the output data from the server – knowing that this will increase the processor load, but better allowing us to gauge the time it takes to process.


Inspite of all these security features, a new technology has been developed. Bank United of Texas became the first in the United States to offer iris recognition technology at automatic teller machines, providing the customers a cardless, password-free way to get their money out of an ATM. There's no card to show, there's no fingers to ink, no customer inconvenience or discomfort. It's just a photograph of a Bank United customer's eyes. Just step up to the camera while your eye is scanned. The iris -- the colored part of the eye the camera will be checking -- is unique to every person, more so than fingerprints. And, for the customers who can't remember their personal identification number or password and scratch it on the back of their cards or somewhere that a potential thief can find, no more fear of having an account cleaned out if the card is lost or stolen.


When a customer puts in a bankcard, a stereo camera locates the face, finds the eye and takes a digital image of the iris at a distance of up to three feet. The resulting computerized "iris code" is compared with one the customer will initially provide the bank. The ATM won't work if the two codes don't match. The entire process takes less than two seconds.

The system works equally well with customers wearing glasses or contact lenses and at night. No special lighting is needed. The camera also does not use any kind of beam. Instead, a special lens has been developed that will not only blow up the image of the iris, but provide more detail when it does. Iris scans are much more accurate than other high-tech ID systems available that scan voices, faces and fingerprints.

Scientists have identified 250 features unique to each person's iris -- compared with about 40 for fingerprints -- and it remains constant through a person's life, unlike a voice or a face. Fingerprint and hand patterns can be changed through alteration or injury. The iris is the best part of the eye to use as a identifier because there are no known diseases of the iris and eye surgery is not performed on the iris. Iris identification is the most secure, robust and stable form of identification known to man. It is far safer, faster, more secure and accurate than DNA testing. Even identical twins do not have identical irises. The iris remains the same from 18 months after birth until five minutes after death.

When the system is fully operational, a bank customer will have an iris record made for comparison when an account is opened. The bank will have the option of identifying either the left or right eye or both. It requires no intervention by the customer. They will simply get a letter telling them they no longer have to use the PIN number. And, scam artists beware, a picture of the card holder won't pass muster. The first thing the camera will check is whether the eye is pulsating. If we don't see blood flowing through your eye, you're either dead or it's a picture.


We thus develop an ATM model that is more reliable in providing security by using facial recognition software. By keeping the time elapsed in the verification process to a negligible amount we even try to maintain the efficiency of this ATM system to a greater degree.

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