What year is it? Palm scanners at a bank? For one North Dakota bank, the future, it appears, is now, with its new palm vein pattern scanner, which could become a trend in the industry.

Gate City Bank introduced its new Secure ID palm vein scanner in July 2018 at its downtown Fargo location. The scanner gathers biometric data from customers, allowing them to be recognized, without ID, by placing their palm on a scanner pad. According to the bank, the scanner should speed up in-branch service while providing better security and more privacy. The scanner has since been rolled out at all the bank’s locations.

“We are always looking for ways to make sure we are securely identifying our customers,” said Becky Mindeman, retail manager for the Grand Forks market. “This is just another step that we can implement to verify who we are doing business with.”

Mindeman said that the bank is enrolling customers in the Secure ID program each day.

To get involved in the program, customers must first verify who they are with an ID. After this, a customer holds a hand over a palm scanner, which allows it to read the vein pattern of each person.

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“On your palm, there are actually millions of reference points that create a pattern that is uniquely recognizable to only you, so it makes it very secure,” Mindeman said.

Once enrollment is complete, a customer can scan a palm whenever conducting a transaction at the teller.

“It’s fast, it’s accurate, it’s secure,” she said. “They don’t have to have their identification with them when they come in, which is nice for the customer in case they forgot it at home or in their car. They don’t have to run outside and get it.”

According to Mindeman, the biometric data gathered by the bank is stored safely.

“The security of our customers' information is of utmost importance to us,” she said. “We would never introduce a product or service that would jeopardize that trust that they have in us.”

Gate City Bank is the first bank in the state to use this type of technology, said Mindeman, calling it “pretty unique.” Though she is not sure if this is the trend in banking, she expects others to follow suit.

“I would imagine us having this technology, and other banks seeing how successful it is, just having that other layer of security, knowing who you’re doing business with, I would imagine that more and more businesses would move to this type of verification,” she said.

Customers don’t need to enroll in the program if they don’t want to, and once enrolled, they can be unenrolled from the system if they choose. That process purges customers' biometric data from the system, without affecting their banking profiles. Customers who close accounts also will have their data purged from the bank’s system.

“Innovation in banking is big,” said Mindeman, about the role of technology in banks.