Cheaper Alternative to Biometric Fingerprint Readers?

Time-tracking app for staff. This image was uploaded by ClockInstant at 11 Imam Haron Rd Claremont, Cape Town, 7708.

Biometric fingerprint readers have been a tried and tested technology when it comes to authorization, criminal investigation, access control and time & attendance. This article focuses on it’s use with regards to time and attendance or staff time-tracking as it is sometimes known.

Biometrics burst onto the scene when fingerprint reader technology came to the fore, however that was 30 years ago and technology has progressed since then. Companies have developed facial recognition and even iris recognition software; and while these have definite pro’s, such as being extremely accurate, there are many arguments that can be made as to why an alternative should be used. In 2018, a mobile phone can take the form of many things and a time & attendance machine is definitely one of them. This is a comparison between a biometric fingerprint readers and mobile time & attendance apps.

1)     Cost

The most obvious con is the cost of biometric fingerprint readers. In South Africa, it will cost you between R10 000 and R15 000 per reader which can house up to 50 employee’s fingerprints on them as well as a yearly license fee. Our app, for example, is free to download and requires a pocket-sized Bluetooth beacon which ensures staff are clocking in on site. This beacon is R600 once off. There is a nominal monthly fee to use the software

2)     Data Capturing

It takes time to onboard your employees onto the reader. If there is a human error when onboarding the employee the system could collect incorrect information. The app captures the information upon registration of your employee to the app which takes 30 seconds. It then feeds this information through to your cloud portal on your computer every time your employee clocks in.

3)     Storage of Data & Processing Power

Fingerprint readings are large files and require an extensive amount of processing to match with actual fingerprint, this is reason the readers can generally only house 50 fingerprints on them. Our app requires no large files or extensive data and all your data is housed on our cloud servers meaning your phone or computer does not require any storage parameters.

4)     Mobility

Standard fingerprint readers need to be connected to a power source and thus are stationary. This means if your staff move around or you have many sites biometric readers will not work for you unless you have the capital to splash out on several. The advantages of mobile phones and our pocket-sized Bluetooth beacons are that they can be moved from site to site meaning staff can clock in no matter the circumstances surrounding their work.

5)     Reporting

Fingerprint Readers do not allow reporting in real-time meaning you need to extract the timesheet information from the device weekly or month. Our cloud platform means that you and your supervisors are able to know exactly if and when an employee arrives or leaves one of your sites. You are also able to download your reports directly to excel from the portal at any time and for any date-range.

One question you may have is how accurate is the data an app collects, can staff clock their colleagues in and out? While biometrics use fingerprints and cannot be conned. Our app has mechanisms to avoid ‘buddy clocking’. For one, each app is unique to each individual meaning no employee can obtain their colleague’s details and login – login functionality is disabled. Also, the mere nature of mobile phones suggests it is highly unlikely phones will be given to colleagues for extended periods for the sole purpose of clocking in.

If you would like more information or are interested please email or fill in an inquiry form on our home page.


This article was produced courtesy of the ClockInstant team,

ClockInstant is a startup that focusses on productivity growth solutions for SMME’s in emerging markets. Our simple, single feature, one-click time tracking solution allows employers to track staff anywhere ensuring they are on time, in the right place, at the right time. 

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