Iris-Scanning ATMs and the Future in Banking

by on May 17, 2016

Citigroup has partnered with Diebold, an ATM manufacturer, to test out cardless, eye-scanning ATMs. This technology has piqued the interest of major financial companies due to the proliferation of smart-phone use and the growing presence of biometrics, such as finger-print scanning. The Diebold Irving model allows customers to withdraw money by entering a desired withdrawal amount on a mobile app and receiving cash after getting an iris-scan for an ATM. Diebold claims machines can dispense the cash in less than 10 seconds.


Accuracy and reliability are the biggest advantages of iris-scanning software. Eye-scanning ATMs eliminate the need for debit cards, therefore removing the risk of fraud that targets ATM transactions. The Irving machine lacks a card reader, which prevents card skimming, and doesn’t require PIN entry.  Iris scanning is the second most reliable form of identification to DNA. It is more accurate than fingerprinting because the iris is naturally protected by the cornea and its pattern remains unchanged for decades. Iris scans can be performed safely at a distance and without direct contact and are not affected by contact lenses or glasses. Even those who are blind can use the technology.


Irving would not be the first cardless ATM. Rosemont-based Wintrust Financial introduced dozens of such machines in early 2015, although they are not eye-scanning ATMs. Wintrust Financial technology lets a user queue up an ATM transaction within a mobile app, then display a quick-response code at the ATM to dispense the cash.

Hesitant customers need not worry; Diebold says it could take years before biometric scanning becomes standard in banking. It is a relatively untested technology, and banks need time to perfect it before it is widely implemented. Customer response to biometric ATMs is currently unknown. Nevertheless, this new and exciting venture for Citigroup may very well change the face of banking—or at least its eye.