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At Texas Bank's ATMs, the Eyes Have It

May 14, 1999| From Associated Press

HOUSTON — If you can't tell identical twins Michael and Richard Swartz apart, do what Bank United of Texas does--look them in the eyes.

On Thursday, Bank United became the first in the U.S. to offer iris recognition technology at automated teller machines, providing the Swartzes and other customers a cardless, password-free way to get their money out of an ATM.

Here's how it works. The bank takes a close-up photo of a customer's eye and stores it in a computer. At the ATM, the customer presses a button to start an eye scan. The ATM then matches the picture of the iris with the one stored in the bank's database to confirm the customer's identity.

To demonstrate, Richard Swartz, a 25-year-old Rice University graduate student, had his iris photographed by a bank employee. Minutes later, Swartz was able to withdraw $40 out of his account, without inserting a card or punching in a secret identification code.

Then, Swartz's brother Michael walked up to the machine. But since his iris didn't match his brother's, the ATM refused to give him access.

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