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1:24 PM

They’re back: Biometrics were once touted as a failsafe security technology for financial payments.

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They’re back: Biometrics were once touted as a failsafe security technology for financial payments. That was until a myriad of cost, privacy and operational issues reared their heads between the conceptual and implementation phases.

Biometrics make “know your customer” a “no brainer” But while you may know who your customer is, the question is at what cost. Also unknown is which biometric technology is best suited for a particular customer base. Also, to be determined, is how to capture and securely hold customer biometric data.

In the face of these and other issues, many financial institutions and providers simply gave up and settled for other, less problematic, security technologies, such as EMV.

However, as James Bourne, editor of TechForge Media, writes is the LinkedIN Payments group blog biometrics may be making a comeback, if something that has never been can come back.

Since 2011, MasterCard has been driving an interesting biometrics project in South Africa in partnership with the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA). South Africans who receive social security benefits access those benefits on a SASSA Mastercard debit card.

The single debit card replaced a system which manually disbursed cash on behalf of multiple agencies to a recipient population equal to 1/2 the general population.

The Mastercard solution allowed for multifactor authentication, including voice print, finger image, and PIN. One time per month each beneficiary must perform a proof-of-life demonstration through a voice print or finger image in order to receive his benefit for the month.

Although this is a government benefit program, beneficiaries are mandated to sign up for bank account.

The SASSA project also requirers merchants who wish to accept the SASSA card as a form of payment to have biometric readers in place at their front-end in order to process SASSA transactions. The SASSA card is an open-loop network card with a restricted-access geographic limitation, meaning that it can only be used in a pre-defined region.

While the technology is costly, the government enjoys higher payment efficiency, payment accuracy, transparency, and dramatically lower cost of disbursement operation and reduction in payment fraud estimated at 3 million.

Beneficiaries enjoy faster delivery of benefits, increased benefit accuracy, increased security through the elimination of cash and the addition of biometric protection as well as achieving financial inclusion through the mandatory bank account.

Editor Bourn provides background information on biometrics and the financial services industry and also pimps last June’s Biometrics in Banking and Financial Services Summit, an annual event.
1:23 PM

Email Etiquette

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Here are 4 common email faux pas that are rude and disrespectful and won’t win you any points from the person you are emailing and trying to impress, such as a prospective new employer. 

We are use to the wild-west atmosphere of online communications, some of which is due to the limitations of the various forms of social media. For example, the 140-character limit of Twitter doesn’t allow for a proper salutation. 

Failing to address the person whom you are emailing. This is rude and obnoxious. It would be as if you just walked up to a person on the street and started talking to him without introducing yourself. If the subject of your email is short and perfunctory you still need to be polite. And while we are at it, don’t forget a proper closing. You would never end a phone call by simply hanging up. So sign off your emails with a proper closing. Even a simple “goodbye” or “thanks” will do.

Asking your addressee to overlook any typos or other mistakes in your text. This tells the person to whom you are writing that he or she is not important enough for you to take a few moments to proof the body of your mail. It also marks you as an unserious, superficial person. 

Being tone-deaf. Email communications, by their nature, are impersonal, which is why we sometimes opt for them as our form of communication. Nevertheless, we sometimes “personalize” them by editorializing with the tone that shows how we really feel. Sometimes, we don’t even realize that we have done that. It could be a scolding tone or a “I don’t give a damn” tone. Just be aware of the effect that your tone has on your message.

Failing to read an email in its entirety. The fact that we are communicating electronically vouches for the fact that we are busy. But there is no excuse for not reading completely an email to which we are responding. Doing so is rude and insulting to the person with whom you are communicating. 



None of us is expected to be a perfect wordsmith. If William Shakespeare were writing for today’s demanding editors, Hamlet might be 5 pages. Just be aware that your emails may say more about you than you intended. Whether this extra messaging is good or bad is up to you.

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