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McDonald’s testing biometrics technology on POS system


McDonald’s is taking a more proactive approach to its loss prevention efforts by piloting new biometric authentication technology on its point-of-sale (POS) system at select restaurants, according to a report by Security Management.

Under the pilot program, which involves some of its restaurants in the United States, the fast food franchise has installed a fingerprint device on cash registers which require a fingerprint scan to activate the system.

Implementing a biometric authentication system will help the loss prevention team detect fraud, as well as aid the operations and management team keep track of which employee has access to a certain register, determine who made a specific sale and monitor revenue.

The new biometric system is expected to replace the current system in which employees and managers use four-digit passwords that allow them to access the POS system or approve promotion coupons, reductions and corrections, said Robert Holm, senior director of safety and security for McDonald’s USA and president of the Restaurant Loss Prevention and Security Association (RLPSA).

In the event that the manager’s password is compromised, “which in our industry is not uncommon, now a crew person has the ability to do some fraud,” Holm said. “So with the introduction of biometrics, that could eliminate that potential right off the bat, and it’s going to allow for more strict accountability.”

Some critics have brought up privacy concerns regarding the use of biometrics in the workplace, however, Holm said the majority of employees and managers seem to prefer biometric authentication over the password system.

“They know now that nobody else will be able to jeopardize that register by using their password, which helps create a black cloud for an honest person” who might be blamed for a fraudulent transaction but is not the real offender, Holm says.

McDonald’s is also considering implementing a biometric-based time and attendance system to combat buddy punching and other attendance-related fraud.

“There’s a lot of times people just punch in their buddies because their buddy is running late,” Holm said. “It’s very difficult to manage if you’ve got 60 or 70 employees under one roof in one restaurant, so we’re also using biometrics to manage our labor hours and we’re seeing some really, really good results.”

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