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March 19, 2003

Fortune: Washington Mutual - a new banking model

Kimberly Allers reports on the unique approach that Washington Mutual brings to retail banking.
While banking behemoths like Citigroup and Chase were investing millions to steer customers out of their branches and to faceless ATMs and the Internet during the past several years, Washington Mutual courted customers in underserved urban markets by offering free checking and other wallet-targeted incentives. With its customer-oriented appeal to the mass market and its own version of everyday low pricing, the bank known as WaMu (pronounced "WAH-moo") has earned comparisons to retail giant Wal-Mart.

March 18, 2003

Concord EFS appoints new outside director

Concord EFS announced this morning that George F. Raymond has been elected to its Board of Directors. Raymond is president of Buckland Corporation, a consulting company to the information technology industry based in Moorestown, N.J.

March 17, 2003

Boston Globe: Privacy concerns with RFID

Hiawatha Bray reports on some privacy concerns with the deployment of RFID technology.
Still, the retailers and manufacturers are the real beneficiaries of these chips. And there's nothing wrong with that. But what about the rest of us? RFID chips could soon be in our groceries, our medicines, and our clothes. Will we know the chips are there? Will we know how to turn them off? Will we know who's scanning them, and what they're doing with the information? Even those who lack Albrecht's fervent love of privacy would be well advised to start asking these questions. Now.

Washington Technology: NIST rates facial recognition systems

Wilson Dizard reports on NIST's testing of 14 facial recognition systems.
The test had three parts. First, NIST asked the systems to match a facial image against the database of images and find 10, 20 or 25 similar images. Next, the systems had to verify identities using the database of images. Finally, NIST checked each system‚s reliability under different lighting conditions and monitored the speed of each application. The three top-rated systems verified identities correctly 87 percent to 90 percent of the time with a false-alarm rate of 1 percent. When NIST specified a false-alarm rate of 0.1 percent, the success rate dropped to between 79 percent and 82 percent. When checking facial images against a watch list of 25 images at a false-alarm rate of 1 percent, the top three systems were accurate about 80 percent of the time. The success rate fell to below 60 percent when NIST expanded the watch list to 3,000 images at the same false-alarm rate.

Toronto Star: Finger on the future

Tyler Hamilton reports on HP's new iPAQ 5450 which includes a biometric fingerprint scanner.
Experts say HP's decision to integrate biometric technology into a hand-held is an industry milestone and a sure sign of things to come as device makers draw up plans for next-generation products that blend tight security with one-swipe convenience. "The credibility you get from going into a consumer product like this is really high," said Michael Thieme, director of special projects for International Biometrics Group LLC, a New York-based consultancy that focuses on the biometric market. I think it's reflective of what we're going to start seeing over the next 18 to 24 months." For biometric software and hardware developers, it's been a long time coming. Biometrics ˜ a way of identifying people through a fingerprint, iris pattern or some other unique biological characteristic ˜ has for years been touted as a perfect fit for consumer electronic devices, keyboards and that mouse beside your home computer.

New York Times: Mag Stripe Readers - How They Work

Roy Furchgott provides an overview (including a multimedia graphic) of magnetic stripe readers and how they work. Includes coverage of card skimming and MagTek's Magneprint technology.

New York Times: Handwriting Biometrics

Ian Austen reports biometric signature authentication.
If such systems were widely adopted, Mr. Zimmerman said, it would be possible for people to abandon plastic credit cards. When making a purchase, a shopper would identify himself by typing a number (a telephone number, say) on a keypad at the cash register, then sign a digital pad. At the very least, Mr. Waisel of WonderNet said, credit card companies could eliminate the signatures and other personal details from cards, making them less attractive to thieves. Metris tries to rebuild its house of cards

Julie Forster reports from Minneapolis on Metris.
The company finds itself in this precarious position partly because of the economy but also because of a decision that was made in 2001 to extend the credit limits of the company's most profitable customers. Just after the credit limits were extended, other lenders, including Target and Sears, came out with their own credit cards and aggressively pursued customers, many of whom added debt from their new cards in addition to expanding their Metris balances. Then came the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, and the sudden contraction of the economy, a phenomenon that always hits highly indebted borrowers hardest. "On Sept. 12, our payments stopped," said Matt Melius, executive vice president for credit risk management.

New Retail Payments Weblog by Simon Lelieveldt

Simon Lelieveldt has a new retail payments weblog from his base in the Netherlands.


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