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These ‘Biometric Blockchain ATMs’ Scan Your Face to Fight Dark Web Card Fraud

Last Updated March 4, 2021 2:54 PM
Conor Maloney
Last Updated March 4, 2021 2:54 PM

Cutting-edge blockchain ATM prototypes are being rolled out in Saudi Arabia with a unique take on granting users access to funds. The ATMs use biometric scanners to scan the face of each account holder as part of a five-factor authentication process secured by a blockchain app being used by the largest ATM provider in the Middle East.

Biometric Facial Recognition With Blockchain

Blockchain ATM
Face-scanning verification has the potential to make PIN codes obsolete. Source: CCN.com / Conor Maloney

The ATMs are the result of a partnership between Alhamrani Universal (AU) and blockchain mobile-identity platform ShoCard. The five-factor authentication process includes facial scanning, the ShoCard ID, a QR code, session IDs, and timestamps among other certification methods aimed at thoroughly vetting and verifying each user.

The system does away with the traditional method of memorizing four-digit PIN codes in an effort to combat the ever-present threat of credit card fraud, which is made all too easy with the simplistic PIN system and a thriving black market for credit cards.

Dark Web Credit Card Fraud

In the past, the PIN system was simple but perfectly functional. However, the rise of the dark web and its bustling black marketplaces for weapons, drugs, hacking tools, and credit cards has for years outpaced the rudimentary measures in place to prevent fraud.

A study by Gemini Advisory showed that 60 million credit cards were compromised  last year and sold on the dark web in the US alone. Credit card details are obtained in a number of ways, from hacking major company databases to phishing scams, CCN.com reported. Each card can then be sold on the dark web for anything between $10 – $450  depending on the spending limit.

Buyers can purchase the credit card details, for making digital purchases, or a more-coveted physical clone of the card, which can be used to take out thousands of dollars in cash from ATMs.

The latter is far more difficult to trace, as a user simply needs a PIN and to cover their face when withdrawing cash from an ATM that may be thousands of miles away from the original copy of the cloned credit card. Through five-factor biometric authentication, this method of cloning cards and withdrawing small fortunes is impossible and essentially rendered obsolete, allowing banks and financial service providers to catch up with dark web criminals at last.

The Prototype

The prototype being launched by AU, which controls over 50% of the market share of ATMs in Saudi Arabia, is designed to be bank-agnostic, communicating information across any number of institutions and providers.

The ATMs use blockchain technology to confirm the identity of each user without actually accessing the database of their bank. ShoCard tech is designed to protect user privacy during the authentication process, allowing for true-digital signature with non-perishable audit trails, transaction authorization, and frictionless login with no username or password required.

Still in testing, the ATMs will be launched shortly and should put a halt to in-person card fraud at any ATMs equipped with the technology according to Armin Ebrahimi, CEO of ShoCard.

The ShoCard solution will solve the issue of card fraud at ATMs that continues to plague banks and consumers. It fits nicely into existing ATM technology, which usually already has a camera installed, and makes the customer experience as seamless as possible. At the same time, it utilizes blockchain technology to protect individuals’ identity while confirming the information that banks need to verify that a withdrawal is legitimate.

Tariq Abdat, CEO of Alhamrani Universal, stated that the innovation was part of a wider national movement to digitally transform the nation of Saudi Arabia.

We’re delighted to be working with ShoCard to develop a blockchain-based biometric ATM that will play a major role in helping to reduce fraud for consumers. Digital transformation is a key pillar of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and collaborating with trusted technology partners such as ShoCard allows us to offer solutions that meet ever-growing demands for innovations.