Africa is Leveraging Biometric Technology to their Advantage

biometric technology deployments on the African continent


A story popped up on the news wire today that caught our eye and got us thinking.  The story, “Techno Brain deploys gov’t info kiosks in Tanzania” reports that Tanzanians who are eligible for Social Security funds can now, “have the freedom to gain access to their account details and conduct transactions in both in English and Swahili…” through a new kiosk located all regional social security offices.  In addition, social security recipients can also set appointments with inspectors through the kiosk, something that previously had required citizens to wait in long lines to accomplish.  Fingerprint biometric identification was built into the kiosk architecture to help prevent fraud and protect user privacy.

This is yet another example of a country in Africa who is leveraging biometric technology to their advantage.  Although we could not definitively determine exact statistics that confirms Africa leads the rest of the world in biometric technology deployments, outside of the recent UID project launched in India, the biometric news feeds are dominated with stories about how African countries are leveraging biometrics to combat fraud, protect data, stop waste, manage complex political processes, boost security, and many other applications.

While it may be too early to tell what type of affect that biometric applications have on raising African standards of living, it has definitely proven to be an effective tool to stem the tide of some widespread fraud, corruption and waste that was characteristic of many countries throughout the continent.  It remains clear that there is a strong willingness among African citizens to participate in biometric identification deployments for the sake of improving their living standards and less concern about what possible implications using biometrics could have on their privacy rights.

Expect to see more future applications of biometric technology throughout the African continent as they continue to see success and learn from their mistakes to make the necessary adjustments that will improve performance down the road.

Do you feel that Africa has done a good job of leveraging biometric technology to their advantage?

You Can’t Leave Your Fingers at Home

ACS church management software check-in with the M2-EasyScan Reader

Please enjoy this guest blog post from ACS Technologies, a M2SYS partner who provides excellence in information management solutions for the faith-based community.

This post was written by Eleanor Pierce, Communications Strategist at ACS Technologies.  A link to the ACS Community Blog page can be found here.




Imagine the rush of people at check-in before church services on a Sunday morning. Hundreds of families, all trying to move through the process as quickly as possible so they’re not the one trying to sneak in after the sermon has already started. Today’s churches are looking for anything that can a) speed the process of checking kids in and b) assure the security of kids and c) create accurate attendance records and pickup lists.

Checking-in 350 kids in 10 minutes

Northwoods Community Church in Peoria, Ill., checks in about 800 kids every weekend, between its four services at two different campuses.

“For our 11 o’clock service, it’s probably close to 350,” said Jason Lee, Information Technology Director at the church. “We’re trying to process that many children in, let’s say a 10 minute window.” Creating a smooth check-in experience isn’t optional, it’s necessary.

“People don’t come early just to check in. We needed to create something that accommodates the attendees, because we could say sure, we’ll just put in one kiosk, but you’ve got to come 30 minutes early to church to check in,” Jason said—but of course, that approach wouldn’t won’t work for the attendees.

That’s why Northwoods has several self-check-in stations that use biometric technology. There’s a guest services desk for those who are not yet in the church’s database, or those who have brought a child that’s a guest, perhaps a cousin or neighbor. For those who are already entered in the system, there are stations where parents can check-in their kids quickly and easily, using a biometric scanner.

The preregistration requirement allows the Northwoods staff to be sure they know the kids who are being checked in and to assure that parents have signed any release forms. Once the paperwork has been handled, staff help parents pre-scan their finger so that they’re entered into the M2SYS system.

Returning parents who have been entered into the system can check-in at an express kiosk. “They walk up, scan their finger, and then it comes up and displays all the children in their family that can be checked in,” Jason explained.

Using the finger scanner with parents instead of the kids assures that parents are actually dropping their kids off in person, rather than just pulling up their cars out front and letting their child come inside alone.  While it might save a parent time, Northwoods doesn’t like the safety issues for kids younger than 5th grade.

One key benefit to biometric scanners is that there’s no way to forget what you need to check in.

“You could use a barcode, any sort of RFID, but you can forget those at home,” Jason said, “But it’s pretty challenging to forget your fingers unless you get in a fight with a lawnmower.”

Midwest dry skin = tough-to-capture fingerprints

Northwoods initially used a fingerprint scanner, but tough Midwestern weather means that there can be problems getting a good fingerprint. One problem is that cold winters and dry air can make fingerprints difficult to capture. Also, people who work outside and have calloused hands just might not have a good fingerprint at all. For that reason, Northwoods is in the process of transitioning to finger vein scanners for all check-in. They’ve already begun using the new scanners at one of their satellite campuses, and they’re getting ready to move the 1,500 parents who have been entered into their system using finger prints to re-scan using finger veins.

“The scanners are easier to use, the technology is not environmentally dependent, and it’s very accurate,” Jason said. While testing the machines with his own hand, he tried to create an error.

“I tried to get my finger to scan wrong, and unless I turned my finger sideways, it worked,” he said.

A real partnership

One aspect he’s been very happy with is the working relationship between ACS Technologies and M2SYS. Northwoods uses M2SYS in conjunction with its ACS Technolgies check-in software. It’s a totally integrated system that helps the church keep track of the families that attend the chuch.

“It’s nice to have a partner. That ACS Technologies said M2SYS is good, go work with them, and it’s not some just random third party that we’ve picked up off the shelf, that’s key for us; knowing that we have the support and backing of ACS Technologies and that they have the backing and support of M2SYS.”

Jason Lee also writes a blog called “Bytes about bits in church IT”

M2SYS Releases White Paper on Using Biometric Technology To Eliminate Time Theft, Tighten Compliance

RightPunch soft clock for time and attendance

RightPunch soft clock custom employee time and attendance data interface

We are proud to announce that we have recently released a free white paper entitled: “Eliminating Time Theft, Establishing Accountability and Increasing Productivity with Biometric Technology.”  This  white paper begins with a look at the problems lack of employee accountability creates for a business and how it negatively impacts efficiency and profitability.  It then examines the increasing problem of employee time theft (offering in depth look at actual examples like extended lunch breaks, lollygagging, etc.) and how it impacts a businesses bottom line, causing billions of dollars of losses each year.  The white paper then studies limitations that traditional employee time and attendance methods pose including; sharing personal identification numbers (PIN’s), replacing stolen or lost employee ID badges, cost of resetting passwords and more.  We then explore monetary and productivity losses from inefficient payroll techniques including detailed charts and graphs that break down the numbers and present alarming statistics on just much these factors can drain profitability.

The white paper then discusses the positive impact that biometric identification technology has on employee time and attendance providing concrete examples on realized monetary savings and the direct links of adopting biometrics to increase risk mitigation.  Next we break down the different biometric modalities (fingerprint, finger vein, palm vein and iris recognition) providing the benefits of each as well as a detailed modality usability and accuracy chart.  We finish up the white paper by comparing a PC-based biometric “soft” clock with a wall mounted biometric time clock.

We hope that this white paper is helpful for our readers to gain a more thorough understanding about the value of biometric technology for time and attendance and the advantages that it brings compared to other more traditional forms of employee identification.  Please fill out the contact form on the right if you would like to receive a copy of the white paper, or click on this link:

Thank you for sharing this post with anyone that you feel may benefit!

Stop Employee Time Theft And Embezzlement With Automated Time And Attendance

Stop employee time theft

Antiquated paper time sheet

We caught wind of a news story today about a Stamford, CT woman who embezzled over $150,000 from her employer by falsifying payroll spreadsheets over the course of a four year period.  Apparently the woman was manually increasing the number of hours that she worked each week then manipulated composite reports so they would not show any increase in pay.  All told over the course of nearly four years, she overpaid herself $150,689 in salary and $11,528 in Social Security and Medicare benefits.

After reading this article, we wondered if the employer might have been able to avoid this employee time theft if they would have discontinued using paper time sheets and instead switched to an automated labor tracking system that included a biometric time clock component.  We have written previously about 5 reasons paper time sheets suck and why you should stop using them, clearly this story is a an example on how employers can mitigate risk by switching to automated payroll systems that eliminate data manipulation leading to exorbitant payroll losses.

Investing in an automated payroll system that includes a “soft” clock application that can be used with or without biometrics and acts as a custom employee time data collection interface is becoming a more attractive option for employers.  Our RightPunch™ soft clock application works seamlessly with many leading Workforce Management platforms, such as Kronos, ADP, Empower, Qqest, Insperity, and others, to collect offline time stamps, locally enforce schedule restrictions, and facilitate employee self-service (ESS) functions. It is a more affordable alternative to the traditional time clock and more sensible option to the antiquated paper time sheet system which can easily be exploited.  It is designed to eliminate employee time theft, increase productivity, reduce payroll error rates, and ensure compliance with labor tracking laws.  It also creates payroll efficiencies through automated data collection and submission, to prevent employees from falsifying data and cheating the system.

Could this be the right time for you to invest in an automated payroll system?  Have you ever suspected employees were cheating you by falsifying their time sheets?  What questions or comments can you share about your experiences?

Contactless Biometric Sensor Market Poised For Rapid Growth

M2SYS Palm Vein Reader with Fujitsu PalmSecure Contactless Sensor Technology

Recent reports have suggested that the contactless biometric sensor market is poised for rapid growth as more deployments of the technology take hold in vertical markets around the globe.  The report suggests that market growth for touchless sensing could reach $3656.8 million ($3.6 billion) by the end of 2015.  Touchless biometric sensors can be found in biometric hardware like Fujitsu’s PalmSecure Palm Vein biometric reader, Hitachi’s VeinID Finger Vein device and contactless fingerprint readers.  The report defined target applications for the technology as gaming, consumer electronics, automotives and transportation.

As biometric deployments begin to expand into markets and environments that are characterized by end users who may possess less than ideal skin conditions to use fingerprint technology, contactless biometric sensor technology is proving to be a viable solution.  We have previously stated that fingerprint technology is not a one-size-fits-all solution due to its reliance on skin integrity and difficulty to function properly in certain environments and with various ethnicities.  Contactless biometric sensors (which have also proven to be more accurate than sensors that require contact) alleviate these problems plus offer the added feature of being more hygienic, a problem that plagues biometric technology with sensors that require contact.

Expect to see more interest in vascular biometrics and iris recognition as companies, organizations and countries seek to deploy secure, accurate, hygienic biometric identification solutions in the future.


M2SYS Guest Blog Post on Privacy and Developing a More Thorough Understanding of Biometric Technology

"Biometrics erases privacy"

Does biometric technology erase privacy?

M2SYS was given the opportunity to write a guest blog post on developing a more thorough understanding of biometrics to help address some of the concerns that privacy advocates have about using the technology.  It was a response to a recent guest post on biometric privacy concerns by James Baker, political consultant for NO2ID in the UK).

Here is a link to the post:

Thank you to James for allowing us to present our opinions and perspective on the subject and we hope to augment the existing research efforts on biometrics and privacy to help bridge the gaps that exist between the industry and privacy advocates.


Future Places Where Biometric Technology Could Be Used More Often

Where may we see biometrics used in the future?In case you had not noticed, biometric identification technology is on the rise.  So much so in fact that more and more businesses, governments and individuals are choosing to deploy biometrics over other traditional identification technologies like personal identification numbers (PIN’s), barcode/magstripe cards and RFID technology.  Biometric technology is one of the fastest emerging markets across the globe due to increased applicability of the technology for civil and commercial applications and the rise in the need to increase personal security.  Recently, a report suggested that biometric technology is forecasted to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 23% from 2011 – 2013.  That’s impressive.

This post is not meant to discuss the growth potential of biometric technology however.  Instead, we wondered what the biometric landscape of the future may look like if  deployments become more widespread into common applications that affect our everyday lives.  Here are some places where we you may see biometric identification being used more often in the not too distant future:


  1. Libraries – Already prevalent in UK school libraries, biometric identification at libraries could soon be a widespread reality here in the U.S.  The practicality of this deployment is reflected in shrinking budgets as library systems across the country figure out ways to slash costs and improve services.  Biometric identification is a good fit since it virtually eliminates printing and maintaining library cards which is a large expense in the overall budget.
  2. Customer Reward/Membership ProgramsThink for a moment about the number of plastic customer reward cards that you carry in your wallet or on your key chain.  There’s the grocery store, pharmacy, retail, fitness club, gas station, car rental agencies, financial services, insurance and many others.  Now think for a moment the possibility of eliminating those plastic cards by substituting biometric identification instead.  Think about the amount of money that can be saved by not having to print and maintain these plastic customer reward/membership cards and the impact on the environment.  Membership oriented facilities have already began the transformation away from plastic cards and more towards biometric identification.
  3. Visitor identification – How many times have you walked into a building as a visitor and had to stop to fill out your name and information and show picture ID before being granted admittance?  Considering that anyone can scribble false information on a form and flash a fake photo ID, does this leave you feeling safe and secure?  Switching to biometric identification at visitor points of entry changes the dynamic completely by eliminating the ability for someone to fake their identity and provides a more concrete audit trail should a problem arise prompting a review of visitor history.  There are even some visitor management software Integrators who have already started deploying biometric identification technology with their end users.
  4. Point of Sale – Going out on a limb here, but our guess is that as biometric technology becomes more accepted throughout society, we may see it introduced again to the retail point of sale environment as a means to pay for transactions.  After a recent failed attempt at widespread adoption of biometric technology to process merchant transactions the technology landscape has changed and a stepped up effort to educate consumers on the science of the technology to combat privacy concerns may be effective enough to introduce it again for mainstream use.  Considering the black mark that the last failed attempt to incorporate the technology had on the reputation of biometrics, we  would venture to say that of all predictions, this one is the least likely to happen anytime soon but still plausible.  We do know that biometrics is making a comeback in retail for other applications and if this success continues, we could soon see it again for point of sale transactions.

What everyday applications that require a mode of identification do you see biometrics being used for in the future?  Any unusual ones?  Please share your feedback in the comments section below.


Biometric Modalities: What makes a “Good Biometric?”

The ear as a biometric identifierThe following is a guest post from Jason Hodge, Vice President of Business Development for SecurLinx.  SecurLinx specializes in networked biometric deployments and multi-modal biometric integration.  You can read more about biometric technology on the SecurLinx blog which can be found at

Iris, Retina, Face, Fingerprint, Finger vein, Palm geometry, Palm vein, gait, ear, DNA, body odor, voice, typing rhythm, signature recognition.  The range of human physical traits and behaviors offers fertile ground for scientists interested in quantifying them for use in identifying individuals.

Two main forces have influenced the selection of biometric identification modality from the near limitless choices: Convenience and Necessity.

Face and fingerprint have been by far the most convenient from both scientific and deployment perspectives.

Scientists need data to develop the algorithms that biometric systems use to identify individuals.  For face and finger, data was never a problem.  Bureaucracies have been collecting both for a century.

In deployment, it’s easy and convenient for participating individuals to interact with the technology.

Necessity, playing its usual role, has driven the development of other biometric modalities.  From a development perspective, given enough data, time and money, I suspect any definable aspect of the human anatomy could be used as a biometric identifier.

In instances where teeth are all that is known about an individual, they are used for high confidence identification.

As long as the telephone is with us as a ubiquitous communication tool, there will be significant demand for voice recognition no matter the challenges.

In order to displace finger/hand and face/eye biometrics in wide scale deployments, the newer biometric modalities will have to out-compete them on two levels, in the lab and in the market.  But in order to thrive as high value-added tools in highly specialized deployments they just need to help solve a high value problem.

Any biometric modality can be useful, especially if it’s the only one available.

Jason can be reached at Mail: Twitter: @SecurLinx URL:

The Top 5 Reasons To Consider Fujitsu PalmSecure Biometric Technology Over Fingerprint

fingerprint readerOk, so you readily admit you are a biometric novice.  You know that biometric identification is growing in prominence, offers many unique features and characteristics not available with other technologies like barcoding and personal identification numbers (PINs) and is an affordable option.  However, what isn’t so clear is the difference between biometric readers in addition to the when, where and why of their use.  Let’s try and shed some light on that by comparing fingerprint to palm vein biometric readers.

Fingerprint biometrics is the most widely used modality in the industry hands down.  Well over half of all the biometric deployments across the globe are for fingerprint technology and it works very well in most situations.  Despite this, fingerprint biometrics is not normally viewed within the industry as a “one-size-fits-all” solution.  There are some subtle variables to recognize and keep in mind if shopping for a biometric system and considering fingerprint as your choice of reader.  Variables that may not be obvious at first but could very well cause you to choose palm vein biometrics instead as the optimal hardware for your deployment.

You may not have considered these top 5 reasons to evauluate palm vein biometrics over fingerprint, but we assure you that they are important reasons to consider and deserve careful review before moving forward:

Reason #1 – Your workforce tends to have unfavorable skin integrity.

Many people work in industries that require the use of tools, chemicals and machines.  Industries that are heavily dependent on the hands of their workers which may compromise skin integrity.  Cuts, scrapes, scars, bruises, dryness, roughness, moisture and other skin conditions can render an individual’s fingerprint unreadable which can cause difficulties when using a fingerprint reader.  Consider using palm vein technology instead which does not rely on skin integrity but instead uses near infrared light to map the vein pattern beneath your palm and uses that as the template for your biometric identification.

Reason #2 – Hygiene is of particular concern to you and your staff.

Fingerprint readers require direct contact with the sensor to scan and identify an individual.  Direct contact can lead to periodic reader cleansing especially in environments that see a high volume of use.   Palm vein readers do not require direct contact with the sensor and a successful scan can be executed by simply hovering over the device.  For those utilizing the hand guide, the device is easy to clean and keep sanitary without compromising the performance of the actual biometric sensor.

Reason #3 – Maximizing return on investment.

Because fingerprint readers require direct contact with the sensor (see #2) which accelerates wear and tear on the device, the longevity of the reader tends to be shorter.  Since palm vein readers do not require direct contact with any sensor to capture biometric credentials, they tend to last longer helping you to achieve a higher return on your initial investment.


Reason #4 – The stigma associated with fingerprint readers.






Fujitsu palm vein reader

M2-PV Palm Vein Reader







One of the most important aspects of deploying a biometric identification system is communicating to employees the safety and integrity of capturing and storing their biometric template data.  There are those who consider the capture of their fingerprint visceral because of the stigma that an image being stored has the potential to be misused or stolen.  Palm vein technology uses near infrared light to read vein patterns beneath the skin so the system is non-traceable – i.e. there is no latent footprint when a person enrolls and uses this type of system.  Because vein patterns exist inside of the body, it is practically impossible to recreate someone’s biometric template.

Reason #5 – Palm vein technology is affordable.

For all of the distinct advantages that palm vein technology offers, it is an affordable alternative to fingerprint.  You may think that switching to a biometric modality that uses near infrared light through a contactless sensor to map a vein pattern beneath the skin might be wildly more expensive than fingerprint but this is not the case.  We have examples of customers who were originally using fingerprint and decided to switch to palm vein technology for one or more of the reasons listed above.

Contact us to learn more about how Fujitsu’s palm vein technology can work to your advantage if you are considering a biometric system or if you have a current system that uses fingerprint technology.

We’d like to hear from our palm vein users – how has using Fujitsu’s palm vein reader been an asset to your biometric system deployment?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.



Mizan Rahman Recognized as 2011 Technology Innovator by InfoWorld

Earlier last week, Mizan Rahman (M2SYS CEO/CTO) was recognized by InfoWorld as a 2011 Technology Leader for creating Hybrid Biometric Platform, a multi-modal biometrics system that supports fingerprint, finger vein, palm vein and iris recognition. Details of the award and information about why Mizan created Hybrid Biometric Platform can be found here:

We are proud that Mizan was recognized as a Technology Innovator for creating Hybrid Biometric Platform, a true testament to the will, creativity and hard work that Mizan injected into the project and the biometric software engine that resulted. Mizan is honored and humbled by the recognition from InfoWorld and even more pleased that many of our customers are actually using Hybrid Biometrics and reaping the vision that Mizan had for this system.

Congratulations Mizan!