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Increasing Profits and Reducing Theft with Biometric-Enabled POS

Hooters has 452 restaurants worldwide. With that many locations and thousands of employees, Hooters wanted to prevent theft, improve productivity and monitor time and attendance. Hooters needed a POS system that could help alleviate these issues. Several methods of employee authentication were considered to help manage these issues, including PINs and swipe cards.

Personal Identity Numbers (PINs), a traditional system for POS user sign-in and identification was seen as being the weakest of all identification methods used for several reasons. PINs can be obtained by standing over someone. Personnel can confuse work PINS with their personal ones. They are easily shared between employees to clock in a friend or perform a task. With an Enterprise System of 20,000 users, finding a unique custom PIN (one that isn’t already used by another employee) can be challenging.

Other systems use swipe cards as the login method. Although swipe cards are a little more secure because you can ensure the number of digits is longer than traditional PIN’s, users typically do not know the number that has been assigned to them. While a little more difficult to obtain, they can be — and are — borrowed or stolen. They can be easily forgotten at home or lost. They can get easily passed from one individual to other.

When a manager is busy, having to issue new swipe cards or PINs costs valuable time during the most critical part of the shift. A manager has deliveries being made, pre-orders coming in, supplier orders needing to be turned in, employees calling in, checklists to fill out…and while doing all of this, having to assign new PINs or swipe cards to employees that forgot them becomes an unnecessary hassle and distraction.

Stopping fraud from within
Trying to catch or prevent employees clocking in friends also adds to a manager’s list of concerns. “‘Buddy Punching,’ the act of clocking in someone else, may seem harmless to most employees, but it can be costly, especially across a chain,” says Wes Marco, Director of IT for Hooters America, “Additionally, the peer pressure between employees to do this, makes employees feel uncomfortable, which impacts morale.”

As much as a company tries to police users not to share their credentials, the reality exists that they can and do. If a manager hands off their card to someone else to authorize a clock-in or void, the manager’s card is now out of their possession, and other functions than the intended use can be performed.
Relying on credentials that can be shared with other users complicates loss prevention investigations. How do you prove without a doubt that a transaction was only performed by the authorized individual? An investigator has to turn to other evidence such as video to emphatically prove who performed the transaction in question.

Next-gen solution eliminates loopholes
In contrast, biometrics eliminates loaning out your credentials to others and ensures only the authorized manager processes voids and refunds. Hooters found biometrics to be a viable option for several reasons.  First, no one can “lose” a fingerprint. Second, an employee can’t ask someone else to clock him or her in and you can’t “loan out” your fingerprint. Finally, if a fingerprint is used to authorize a transaction, you know that person was present. Ultimately, it eliminates the loopholes associated with PINs and swipe cards.

When employees touch the reader, the system quickly searches through a database of encrypted fingerprint templates to find a match. In just seconds, the authorized employee is signed-in and/or authorized to perform a task.
Hooters tested multiple biometric-enabled POS systems in several of their locations.

The Posiflex touch screen terminals that integrated both the MSR and DigitalPersona fingerprint reader were selected. DigitalPersona offers a range of solutions, from software for protecting business information against unauthorized access in enterprises to fingerprint biometrics hardware and programming tools for embedding in applications. Posiflex touch screen terminals are extensively field tested and have a long legacy of reliability. Another deciding factor was that if other hardware packages were selected, Hooters would have had to use an external biometric USB device resulting in more cables and hardware to manage.

Now, when Hooters conducts loss-prevention investigations, they are more assured that the POS Sign-In logs are valid and no longer have to review time-consuming video to determine who performed which particular transaction.
Hooters has seen immediate results since the rollout, including a reduction in costs. The company has eliminated swipe card replacement costs, reduced transaction fraud and food costs plus payroll fraud costs. In addition, Hooters has reduced helpdesk calls for cards and PINs and eliminated unauthorized overrides.
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