Two recent studies have demonstrated a public appetite for biometric payments. Are these just interesting technologies or serious contenders to replace chip and PIN?
Currently when you pay for something by card chip and PIN is normally used to authenticate payment with a signature being an alternative. With biometric payments biometric authentication is used in other words the customer uses part of their body to authenticate the payment. Face or eye recognition can be used however the technology currently being put forward is fingerprint recognition based on a finger scanner.
With a finger scanner your fingerprint is matched with a digitally encrypted record at the point of sale. The record is either stored on the card or at the bank. The card matching process is called match-by-card, if matched with the record held at the bank its called match-by-system.
A six month trial of biometric payments was conducted between Oct 2012 and March 2013 in France. The trial was at a supermarket chain and DIY store with 900 customers taking part. The total number of transactions was 5,000 and the average transaction value was €58.60.
The trial was for match-by-card authentication. The customers’ digital fingerprint record was stored on the card and they had to carry a case to communicate with the fingerprint scanner. To authenticate a payment customers’ presented their card and placed a finger on a reader at the till. Fingerprints or finger veins were then matched. 94% of those taking part said they would be happy to continue using the system with the trial being heralded as a big success by organisers.
In a recent survey by payment processor Worldpay biometric payments came out top in a list of new payment technologies. Of the 2,159 shoppers surveyed 49% said they would like to have biometric payments. This figure was considerably higher than for other alternatives. 30% of the participants said they would like to use PIN based smartphone payments, 25% online wallets, with 23% wanting SMS payments. Paying through social media was the least popular choice, with only 12% saying they would like that option.
Commenting on the findings, Ron Kalifa, Deputy Chairman at WorldPay said: “It’s interesting to see the public considering options such as biometric payments, a science that they may have seen in sci-fi films or on TV, which suggests familiarity and visibility of new payment technologies is crucial in moving usage from tech savvy enthusiasts to the wider public.”
Pros and Cons
Potential advantages of biometric payment include:
- Enhanced security
- Increased speed of transactions
- No need for the customer to carry cash, checks or credit cards
- Access to database by police and the state
- Dangers of security breach of database
It looks likely that in the not too distant future we will have moved on from paying with a payment card authenticated with chip and PIN. What will replace chip and PIN is hard to say at present because there are multiple emerging technologies. What is clear to me is that the customers security and privacy should be the highest priority when introducing new technologies. No one can steal your biometric readings such as your fingerprint so if other security concerns are addressed this technology could well be the one to take the place of chip and PIN.