Why all the buzz about biometric payment cards?

The emergence of biometric payment cards is creating a lot of buzz in the biometrics industry. Many of the major payment providers are involved in pilot projects. Visa and Mountain America Credit Union has started the first pilot project in the US, which Precise Biometrics is part of. Further trials and commercial deployments are planned to commence in 2018, according to the recent report “The Rise of Biometric Smart Cards”, published by the industry publication Embedded Security News.

Why the great interest in biometric payment cards? The quick answer: It improves the convenience and security of in-store payments.

Let’s start with the convenience-factor. The introduction of contactless payment cards has made hundreds of millions of consumers accustomed to a swift and convenient shopping experience for low-cost purchases where pin-codes aren´t required. Consumers spend less time in line, which also improves in-store throughput for retailers. By introducing biometrics, it makes it possible to increase, or altogether remove the caps on contactless transactions that exist in most countries, eliminating the need for pin-codes and further increasing the convenience of in-store payments.

When it comes to security, fingerprint authentication is a more secure means of authentication than a four-digit PIN, and you don´t have to remember it. Biometric payment cards have a self-contained biometric system, which means that the fingerprint identity authentication is made on the card and doesn´t leave the closed loop, providing a high degree of protection against external attacks. By adding fingerprint authentication on payment cards, security is increased while at the same time improving convenience for both users and issuers of the cards. For banks and payment providers that have seen the costs for payment card fraud rise year after year, biometrics comes as a welcome feature to tackle the rise in skimming and fraud.

And what does consumers say? The rapid increase of smartphones with fingerprint technology has made biometrics part of our daily lives. The desire to use biometrics for other applications, such as payment cards is unmistakable. In fact, 50 percent of consumers in China, India, UK and USA are even willing to pay extra for a biometric payment card, according to a study commissioned by Fingerprint Cards.

Interested in learning more about biometric payment cards? Subscribe to our blog to get news and insights about the market; and read the report “The Rise of Biometric Smart Cards”, published by the Embedded Security News.