Barclays is testing security systems that identify staff by fingerprints before they can log on to the company's network, supplied by National Registry Incorporated (NRID).
NRID aims to tie up European distribution and Var deals within weeks to bring its product to the continent, and is negotiating with wholesalers in the UK and Germany. Barclays' Emerging Markets arm is giving the newly launched system a trial, as are eight US healthcare and financial organisations and an agency of the US Department of Defense.
The company's fingerprint scanner uses lenses and a camera to record a digital image of staff fingerprints, then translates this into a code, which uniquely identifies them with one login procedure. According to president and chief executive John Gustavson, fingerprint biometrics offer tighter security than other access control mechanisms.
"Biometrics are more secure than passwords and can't be hacked. The 700x300 image represents 90,000 pixels, which leads to a 432-character identification number for each person. Barclays wants an internal trial before a large roll-out," he said.
Designed to secure client/server networks, Intranets and Extranets, the scanner comes as a separate unit or incorporated into a keyboard from the company's licensing partner Keytronic. Gustavson said volume production of 5,000 units per month of the scanners and the frame grabber that accompanies them will begin in July. The hardware for each seat costs around $450 and the software for Windows NT or 95 is priced at $199 but Gustavson expects prices to fall by a third when volume shipments begin.
NRID hopes to sell its product through Keytronic distributors in Europe, alongside direct sales and accredited Vars, who must complete a one- or two-day training programme. In the US, NRID is completing deals with many large wholesalers including Ingram Micro and Tech Data.
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