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Inner city bank leverages biometric technology to make banking more accessible


ATB Financial and Boyle Street Community Services have partnered to form community agency Four Directions Financial, which leverages biometric identification technology to make banking more accessible.

The move marks the first time a company in Canada has deployed this approach for the underbanked.

After more than a year of consultation with inner-city agencies, the companies formed Four Directions Financial to meet the unique financial needs of those individuals living in poverty.

The company uses biometric technology to help provide them with accessible banking services.

“This unprecedented partnership with ATB has resulted in removing a significant barrier to banking, which has enabled our clients to take control of and protect their financial resources,” said Julian Daly, executive director at Boyle Street Community Services.

The company’s biometric identification technology comprises of retinal and fingerprint scans, eliminating the need for the city’s most vulnerable clients to carry identification or a debit card.

Sixty-five percent of Four Directions Financial’s 500 clients use biometric identification to access their accounts.

In addition to biometrics technology, Four Directions Financial offers several other unique features including daily restrictions on withdrawals that are set by the customer, direct deposit of government cheques, and making the agency open to everyone.

“We heard community members say they needed access to money every day, they needed it in small amounts every day, they wanted direct deposit for cheques whether from the government or not, they wanted people who didn’t judge them, and they wanted all of this in a professional-looking, community-first, tradition-honouring place,” said ATB Financial’s president and CEO Dave Mowat.

Four Directions Financial is staffed and operated by Boyle Street Community Services, with ATB providing training and behind-the-scenes business support.

Over 500 clients to date have opened savings accounts, with more than 30 percent of Four Directions clients now seeing savings in their accounts at the end of every month.

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