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Banks and other financial firms keep mum on how they're using RFID, but solutions providers say they're adopting the technology to track everything from cash to servers.
By Jennifer Zaino
Aug 27, 2012—Banks and other financial institutions are in the business of securing sensitive information and, of course, money. So it's no surprise they prefer to keep their methods for protecting client assets private. The RFID solution providers we interviewed for this story agreed to discuss recent projects for financial firms as long as we'd keep their clients anonymous. Still, their input sheds light on where—and why—RFID is being used in the financial services sector.

The main RFID applications used by financial services are designed to track IT assets, mobile devices, storage, cash and documents. One RFID application that isn't under wraps is contactless payments.

Illustration: iStockphoto
In 2008, the Financial Services Technology Consortium (FSTC) published a set of standards for implementing RFID-based systems to track IT assets within data centers. Shortly thereafter, FSTC was acquired by the Financial Services Roundtable, and a communications representative for BITS, the Roundtable's technology policy division, says work in the area is outdated. A spokesperson for GS1 says, for now, there is no activity on its part to republish or otherwise use the standard.

Nevertheless, some banks are tracking IT assets in data centers, and technology advances are simplifying that process. In the United States, RFID facilitates compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), which requires a proper accounting of fixed assets. Banks must be able to document where their assets are, whether they have "ghost assets" lingering on their books and how they gather information on their assets. The data collected with RFID can provide an accounting.

Another driver is data center consolidation, to reduce costs and complexity. Moving assets requires strong controls, and RFID can provide visibility into the process, according to a technology provider that has been working on consolidation projects with two global banking organizations.
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