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Speed is key in the race to biometrics payments

Speed is key in the race to biometrics payments

Marcel Woutersen

Senior Communications Consultant

23 March 2015

Speed is key in the race to biometrics payments



If there is one good reason why biometric payments are on the verge of a breakthrough, it would be ‘speed’. We are used to take our credit or debit card at a point of sale, swipe it and enter a code. Mobile payments are becoming more popular, but this too requires several steps to complete a purchase in a store: take your mobile device, open the payment app and enter a code.

Unless, of course, your phone has an NFC chip.

Checking out quickly is a priority for consumers (who doesn’t feel the pressure of the supermarket queue?) and retailers (fast checkout means more efficiency) alike. According to Bank Systems & Technology, mobile payments will be ‘stuck in low gear until making a mobile payment becomes faster than using a credit card’.

Biometrics promise to bring speed to the checkout process; whether by face, fingerprints, hand geometry, iris or voice. The technology of biometric identification is maturing rapidly: Gartner even predicted that 30 percent of organizations will use biometric authentication for mobile devices by 2016. According to a WorldPay survey almost half of all European consumers would like to see biometric payments emerge as a payment technology alternative.

But when it comes to the application of biometrics in the payments industry, Google results demonstrate that few organisations are claiming the topic yet:

Google biometric payments

A lot is being said about biometric passports on the Internet, but the application of biometric payments is still a green field.

Does this mean that biometrics are not yet embraced by the payments industry? Not at all. PaymentsSource listed 11 noteworthy uses, including PayPal’s support of fingerprint payments on the Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone.

Disney Magicband

Visa is also experimenting with the technology, but there is challenge: to separate the authentication that is used to access your device from the payment credentials. After all, you wouldn’t want people to access your payment app when your iPhone or Galaxy gets lost or stolen.

The Swedisch startup Quixter introduced a system that uses vein-scanning technology as an identification system.

The main driver for founder and CEO Fredrik Leifland is ‘to come up with a quicker system for making card payments that did away with the related faff of fishing cards out of wallets and all that jazz’, said Techcrunch.

So it seems that speed and security are two main considerations for the development and adoption of biometrics in payments. The technology provider that is able to secure a fast checkout with biometrics will win the battle for the consumer and retailer in the coming years.