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Swiss banks set to give away smartcard readers

Banks in the Swiss Cantons of Vaud and Geneva are planning to give out two-factor authentication devices to 20,000 online banking customers for free in a bid to cut banking fraud.

Unicible IT and Xiring have already equipped banks with Xiring’s Xi-Sign 4000 smart card readers, and are planning further roll-outs throughout 2007. The device is a standalone mart card reader which allows customers to log in with an extra level of security: the user inserts the smart card, enters the PIN code then waits for the reader to generate a one-off pass code which is valid for a single transaction.

This system is the best defense against identity theft and through the implementation of this proven technology, banks are left free to concentrate their efforts on servicing clients, said France-based Xiring. The solution can be adopted across other payment channels, such as telephone banking, and reinforces the competitiveness of a bank’s offer, the company added.

Customer confidence in security is still an issue for banks attempting to take advantage of the low overheads generated by online banking, leading several banks to introduce extra security measures.