Skip to main content


Social Innovation

You're so vein: Meet the next-generation scanner delivering next-level security for business

The fight against fraud is in your fingers

The fight against fraud is in your fingers

Infra-red light and individual vein patterns are the key to innovative identification technology

We all know our fingerprints are unique to each one of us - even identical twins don’t share the same patterns. It’s a fact that has been used by banks for several years to keep our data and our money secure.

But now there’s a new, even safer, identification technology on the block – our finger veins. The pattern of blood vessels in our bodies is entirely distinct to every one of us. Where fingerprints can be stolen, for example, from a glass where we might leave a print behind, the pattern of the veins in our hands is internal, and therefore impossible to steal.

Since 2005, Hitachi has been developing ID technology based on finger veins. By shining infra-red light onto your hand, the haemoglobin in your bloodstream shows up the veins to a computer as your own individual pattern of dark lines. That image can be captured and securely stored, meaning when you need to access important and private information, access will only be granted if the finger patterns match.

Barclays bank are one of the first in the UK to deploy this new technology. In collaboration with Hitachi they’ve developed the Barclays Biometric Reader (BBR) which works as an enhanced finger scanner. It’s a small device with Bluetooth wireless connectivity, which allows people to manage their banking without having to connect the scanner physically to their computer.

‘We’re committed to combating fraud,’ explains Martin Runow, Barclays Corporate Banking’s Head of Digital Banking. ‘Our clients are increasingly mobile and the advances we’ve been able to introduce will allow them to securely manage their accounts wherever they are.’

A customer places their finger on a portable reader and its screen displays instructions describing the activity they’re authorising, offering an extra layer of security against fraud in case their computer has been compromised. No public record is kept of anyone's vein pattern, and even Barclays don't hold this information on their systems. Their digital banking system, iPortal, provides a single access point and sign-in for all their services and has been designed to fully interact with each BBR, making accessing accounts seamless, convenient and very secure for Barclays Corporate Banking and Business Banking clients.

There are no PIN codes or passwords to remember, and Hitachi’s VeinID is globally recognised as one of the most secure biometrics available. In the fight against fraud, it’s a truly revolutionary innovation.