November 20, 2014 -
Bitcoin ATM provider RoboCoin believes that implementing biometric technology is far more work than its worth, according to a report by Payments Source.
In August 2013, RoboCoin began accepting pre-orders for its bidirectional (cash in/cash out) Bitcoin ATM, which it claimed were more secure than competing machines as a result of its built-in palm identification system.
But RoboCoin would soon learn that the biometric authentication technology, while impressive, significantly slowed down the enrollment and transaction process.
“Launching with [biometrics] was cool, removing it was even better,” said RoboCoin CEO Jordan Kelley. “It was not a cheap investment but we learned … a lot about biometrics, customer security and customer enrollment. And we set an interesting precedent for Bitcoin.”
Kelly said the company spent “tens of thousands of dollars” on the project and an additional “hundreds of thousands” on related efforts in integrating biometrics into its ATM hardware.
Since eliminating the technology from its machines, Kelly said that customers are now able to enroll and perform transactions in less than a minute.
Users now only need to enter in their phone number at the machine, which will prompt the system to send them a verification code via text message for them to enter alongside a personal PIN. In addition, all new users will be asked to take a picture of their photo ID and face.
Aside from slowing down customer enrollment, RoboCoin was also concerned about the scalability of biometrics.
“When we’re thinking about other products and other verticals, having to be pigeon-holed into using only machines with biometrics was going to be difficult,” said Kelly, adding that RoboCoin may focus solely on software in the future, and eliminating biometrics allows the company to be “one more step removed from hardware.”
Still, Kelly has not completely ruled out the use of biometric systems for RoboCoin. He said the company is “always excited about the idea of biometrics for wallet authentication,” and is also interested in doing some “cool stuff” with Touch ID once RoboCoin launches its iOS app in the not-so-distant future.