Johannesburg - Banks will implement an online fingerprint verification system to reduce fraud, the SA Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) on Tuesday.
"Phase one of the project, which was completed last year, was successful. It proved that the system was feasible," the centre's CEO Kalyani Pillay said in Midrand after signing a partnership with the home affairs department.
In terms of the agreement, the department would allow banks real-time access to its database to verify the identity of prospective and current clients.
"We are excited about the prospects of this unique project as we anticipate that it will assist the banks in reducing application fraud and identity theft," Pillay said.
Home affairs director general Mavuso Msimang said the project meant public-private sector collaboration to combat identity crime.
Both parties could not say how much the project would cost. The second phase of the project would be implemented in the next three to six months.
It is not anticipated that fingerprint verification will be done for every single transaction. For now, it will be used on people applying for certain services and those clients that need additional facilities, said Pillay.
Banks currently faced the problem of authenticating the identity of clients, given the large number of fraudulent identity documents in the country.
Pillay said the project would help prevent crimes such as falsified facility applications and account take-over fraud. There are 10 banks under the Sabric fold.
The public was assured their private information would not be compromised as banks only had controlled access to the home affairs database.
"It's controlled because we want to ensure that banks only get what they need and this excludes private information," explained Msimang.