Input Devices Used in the Banking Industry

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Secure, user friendly input devices are essential components in today's banking industry. Input devices, whether in a general or banking-specific context, are simply devices used to interface with a computer system. To an average computer user an input device may bring to mind keypads or perhaps a touch screen; however, bank issued cards also provide identity verification input data. Security is a primary concern in the banking industry, which has prompted the transition from magnetic strip-based debit and credit cards to more secure smart cards. Banks also use imaging scanners for data input and authenticating both cash and checks.

Magnetic Strip Cards

Magnetic strip cards are the oldest form of digital bank card and also use the simplest technology, based on the same magnetic strip technology as the 8-track tape and later VHS. While magnetic strip technology has served well in practical day-to-day use, many banks are moving away from this basic input tool because of fraud related concerns. The equipment to read and record on tape strips is easy to come by nowadays, and therefore open to abuse from covert copying scams and PIN number theft.

Smart Cards

Smart cards represent a massive leap forward for banking input data security. These cards feature an embedded computer chip to store point of sale input data. New smart credit cards can use a PIN in much the same way as a debit card, eliminating the need for a signature and simplifying record keeping. While recent years have shown that the older magnetic strip cards are vulnerable to illegal reproduction, few if any average citizens have access to the type of equipment necessary to create and program smart card chips. As of 2011, most bank-issued smart cards also have a magnetic strip to enable backwards compatibly with older point of sales systems; however, it's highly likely that the magnetic strips will be phased out entirely in the future, as more retailers adopt the new, more secure technology.

Pin Pads and Terminals

Pin pads, whether part of a point-of-sale system or integrated into an ATM, allow bank customers to interact and make requests of the bank's computer system. Pin pads are designed for extended use without maintenance and are built sturdily. The pin pads in ATMs are generally constructed out of high-density plastic or sometimes even metal, and last an extremely long time. Point-of-sale terminals, by comparison, generally use soft buttons with a moderate life span, although versions with hard plastic buttons for high use applications aren't unheard of. The complexity of the contents themselves also vary significantly between models; however, between virtually every model a user will find a numeric keypad, an "Enter" and "Cancel" button, and a button to select the customer's choice of accounts. More advanced terminals, such as bank ATMs, often contain multifunction buttons. The function of each button changes as the user navigates through various screens for such purposes as selecting different accounts, withdrawal amounts or other services.

Imaging Scanners

Document imaging scanners are common sights in many workplaces, but banks may employ unique models with capabilities specifically suited to the industry. One common type of scanner found in banks is the check scanner. The scanner's bed is sized to fit checks, while the ergonomic efficiency of its design is particularly helpful for clerks who must scan many checks in a single sitting. Another form of scanner found in banks uses UV light to check for counterfeit paper currency, which has UV light-activated markings that are difficult to reproduce.