Envisioning Future Payments With Biometrics


Could 2014 be the year for a breakthrough in biometric payments technology?

With the biometrics industry already emerging as players in the mainstream world of technology, and swiftly changing the ways of traditional authentication and verification methods with facial, fingerprint, iris recognition technology, etc., it’s no surprise to see how biometrics are replacing our age-old password key chains and PIN codes as we speak.

By the year 2020, it’s anticipated by industry predictions that the next-generation biometrics market, including face, fingerprint, iris/retina, voice, vein, signature, palm-print, and DNA recognition, will be worth anywhere between $5 billion and $23 billion.

Today we’ll be discovering more about biometric payment technology and its breakthrough capability in the year 2014, where speedy transactions and optimal security remains critical in the world of payment technologies. And let’s not forget how biometrics has an ace up in its sleeve when it comes to “lowering the costs for financial institutions in relation to security measures put in place”, as Victoria Conroy says.

Although not without its fair share of challenges, biometric payments technology has several legal, logistical, regulatory and consumer privacy concerns that have to be taken into consideration especially in developed markets such as North America and Europe. Surprisingly, there are less obstacles when it comes to the implementation of biometric technology in the emerging markets of Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America especially where several governments have already initiated on a widespread national ID database that incorporates biometric authentication which has also been integrated into the retail banking sector.

Now, let’s have a look at some of the Biometric solutions that are fast gaining traction worldwide in 2014:

  • Global payment processor and solution provider TSYS announced that its client Vietnam Export Import Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Vietnam Eximbank) were deploying fingerprint authentication technology for over-the-counter or ATM transactions. Vietnam Eximbank is one of the first banks in Vietnam to apply fingerprint verification technology that enables customers to make a transaction without having the physical card, ID, phone or card number present for identification.
  • The Fujitsu powered PulseWallet utilizes palm vein technology to authenticate users and grants them access to their digital wallets to make payments. The up side to it is that this way, this assists banking services greatly in dissolving language barriers and literacy challenges with the customer. Also, PulseWallet prides itself in being aligned with “green payment” as it requires zero waste (cards or receipts) other than the manufacturing resources of the terminals themselves.
  • Recently, SmartMetric successfully built an miniature fingerprint reader into their payments card through utilizing state of the art Biometrics technology. In order for the card to be switched on, the reader will be used to scan the card owners fingerprint for verification. SmartMetric President & CEO, Chaya Hendrick stated that the company will be incorporating fingerprint activated RFID, NFC and Bluetooth Light into its next generation biometric secured cards in an effort to make the card truly ubiquitous and universally acceptable within the security of biometrics.

So just how reliable can Biometric payments technology get?

According to Thomas Bostrøm Jørgensen, CEO of Encap, he remarked that:

“There’s something almost viscerally exciting about biometrics – it feels like the delivery of a science fiction promise. However, fingerprint sensors and other biometric authentication methods such as finger vein scans and face recognition, are not on their own the best way to guarantee identity and fight fraud. Their strength is also their biggest flaw – unique biometric data cannot be reset and changed like a password or PIN.

“The fight against fraud is best achieved through the adoption of multi-factor authentication, where biometrics is a part of the way a user is identified, rather than the main way. A single factor, whether it’s a PIN (something you know), a smartphone (something you have) or a fingerprint (who you are), is not enough on its own. The combination of these factors, alongside others such as location and behavioural data, is the best way to prevent fraud.”

Biometrics makes a lot of sense for payments because it has the capacity to provide a better experience for customers and to offer a unique sense of heightened security. However, what’s more interesting is that biometric payments can be quite controversial especially where most of us are still trapped in confusion with the idea of handing over what’s left of our DNA to the authorities. It’s still the age old concept of an Orwellian that society hasn’t quite gotten over just yet. Well, not for now but at least in decades to come.

And if you’d like, read here to learn more about the role that Biometrics has to play in evolving the future trends of payments starting with cards.

[Image: Fox News]

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