For those of you who don’t know, Bank of America is a large financial services and banking corporation that operates in all 50 states across America. Despite its prestigious stature amongst the American public and its stretch across the entire nation, Bank of America has come under some fire with federal prosecutors lately. In early November 2013, a motion was filed in the U.S. District Court of Manhattan, NY to fine the institution $864 million for bad mortgage loans sold by Countryside, a subsidiary, to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae in the leadup to the 2008 financial crisis. However, many of these sales occurred before Bank of America acquired Countryside in 2008. With a new CEO in place as of 2010, the corporation has been trying to reduce financial losses incurred by its many acquisitions during the global financial crisis.
And yet, despite its various setbacks, the corporation continues to pursue a number of interesting projects. The US Patent and Trademark Office, for one, regularly deal with Bank of America as an individual patent applicant. One unusual patent filing particularly caught our attention here at USB Tips. It discusses the operation of an automatic teller machine (ATM) that also includes a universal serial bus (USB) port in its design. This USB port would allow the ATM to connect to external security devices, such as a fingerprint scanner, to provide authentication.
ATMs are extremely convenient for bank account customers who want to quickly withdraw or deposit funds. Unfortunately, these incredible machines also make it easier for thieves to steal financial data that can lead to dramatic losses for account holders and banks. Reports from the European ATM Security Team (EAST) show that ATM-related crimes increased in Europe by almost 150 percent between 2008 and 2009. In 2008 alone, more than 10,000 ATM skimming attacks were reported across the continent. There are a couple of ways that criminals can compromise an ATM in order to illegally access critical financial data. Pinhole cameras small enough to escape notice from the general public can record video of authorized users entering their PIN on the provided ATM keypad. Skimmer devices, also hard to detect by unwitting users, can read magnetic strips on ATM cards to determine encrypted information from users engaged with an ATM machine.
The patent application filed by Bank of America with the USPTO would protect the design of an ATM that has a USB port. This USB port is capable of connecting a fingerprint scanner device to the ATM. The fingerprint data collected by this scanner can be used biometrically to identify the actual identity of an authorized user, preventing theft through any sort of illegal access attempts through an ATM. The system laid out in this patent application would be capable of working with many types of fingerprint scanning technologies, including ultrasonic sensors, optical imaging or capacitance sensors. Basically, fingerprint scans can be conducted directly on the keypad buttons or touchscreen of an ATM, according to the attached images Fingerprint scan data obtained by these devices can be sent to a telecommunications server through a transmitter included as part of this system.
Claim 1 of U.S. Patent Application No. 20130264384 application states:
“An Automated Teller Machine (“ATM”) for authenticating an identity of a user, the ATM comprising: a fingerprint scanner being configured to capture at least a portion of user biometric information; a first depressible key and a second depressible key, the first depressible key including a first display and the second depressible key including a second display, each of the first display and the second display being configured to display at least one of a plurality of numerical digits; a first receiver configured to receive information from the first depressible key and the second depressible key, the information from the first depressible key relating to a first numerical digit displayed by the first display during a depression of the first depressible key, and the information from the second depressible key relating to a second numerical digit displayed by the second display during a depression of the second depressible key; a second receiver configured to receive information from the fingerprint scanner, the information including first biometric information associated with a first finger placed on the fingerprint scanner and second biometric information associated with a second finger placed on the fingerprint scanner; and a transmitter configured to transmit the information received by the first receiver and the second receiver to a remote server via a telecommunications network.”