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CaixaBank introduces facial recognition ATMs

Spanish bank broadens its use of facial recognition technology on cash machines

Spain’s CaixaBank is rolling out cash machines fitted with facial recognition technology so customers can withdraw cash without entering a PIN.

The bank began using the ATMs in February 2019, with an initial 20 machines installed at major branches in Barcelona and Valencia. The latest plan will see more than 100 additional ATMs with biometric authentication technology rolled out across Spain. The roll-out is expected to be complete in July.

“In the current context of Covid-19, this project is particularly relevant given that it enables us to reduce the physical contact of customers with ATM surfaces,” said CaixaBank CEO Gonzalo Gortázar. “This measure comes in addition to using contactless cards, which contributes to promoting safe terminal use.”

The machines can validate thousands of points on a person’s face, through a combination of cameras and software. The technology means customers can limit the physical contact they have with the machines when selecting the amount of cash they want to withdraw, which can be done by tapping the screen.

“The ATM has the hardware and software needed to validate up to 16,000 points on the image of the user’s face, which guarantees totally secure identification,” said a statement from the bank.

Before the initial roll-out in February 2019, the bank conducted a survey of customers before deciding to roll out the technology. It found that 70% of respondents would be ready to use it as an alternative to entering their personal identification code on a keyboard.

“In the current context of Covid-19, this project is particularly relevant given that it enables us to reduce the physical contact of customers with ATM surfaces”
Gonzalo Gortázar, CaixaBank

A sense of security was seen as an advantage of facial recognition for 66% of those surveyed. Convenience was seen as important for 19% and speed for 15% of the respondents.

CaixaBank serves about 30% of Spain’s retail bank customers, and 5.2 million use its mobile banking app.

CaixaBank customers need to contact the bank to register to use the biometric ATMs.

The use of biometric technology has been a long-held strategy at the bank. Back in 2015, it enabled mobile banking customers to make transactions using a voice-controlled app.

At the time, the bank said it would add other biometric features in the future, including fingerprint identification.

The use of biometric technology to authenticate payments is set to rise rapidly.

A study from Juniper Research late last year said biometric authentication would be used to secure $2.5tn worth of mobile payment transactions by 2024 – an increase of almost 1,000% on the $228bn expected to be transacted via mobile by the end of 2019.

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