authenticate with a fingerprintMaking a Biometric Impression
Fingerprints were the first and most widespread type of biometric security measure and they became popular for a good reason. You simply press your fingertip on a scanner and you're done. In 2017, a survey by Visa showed that 65% of its customers reported familiarity with biometrics while Juniper Research discovered that in-store and remote mobile payment transactions are expected to reach $2 trillion per year by 2023.
Press & Pay
While the appeal of fingerprint authentication lay in accessing mobile devices without a PIN or password, that same ease of use soon allowed it to gain traction in payments. Users of Google Pay or Apple Pay could now authorize payments with just a press of the finger - simple and quick, the golden words for customer experience.
And this type of authentication is safe as well - stealing or replicating fingerprints is not an easy task for fraudsters.
Prints in the Cards
Visa piloted a project in
2018 with Mountain America Credit Union and Bank of Cyprus, providing customers
with an on-card fingerprint recognition biometric sensor.
Fingerprints were the first type of biometrics employed for mobile devices and, subsequently, payments for several reasons. First and foremost, they are unique to each individual. And everyone has them, so they are easy to implement. They are also a highly accurate ID measure and are simple to use, which made them highly economical.
The card would use fingerprints as very simple authentication for contactless payments: the cardholder enrolls their fingerprint upon first use of the card and this data is stored on the card itself. Every time the cardholder presses their finger on the sensor, the card can tell whether it is the same fingerprint as the one it has stored and will then either authorize or deny the transaction.
According to the latest information, the pilot card tests have not yet been completed and biometric cards have to go through additional vigorous testing. As for the Bank of Cyprus specifically, in 2018 it was said that the data will be reviewed once the test phase is complete. The bank was unable to give the Financial Mirror a "timeline for when the cards would be widely available as well as this would depend on the final test results.”
In early 2019, Zwipe and Natwest announced issuing biometric debit cards and in October 2019 they announced trialing biometric credit cards. Both are contactless and can be used at ATMs.
"Fingerprint shopping: Amelia tries out Natwest's new biometric card to pay for a new watch"
This is Money
Taking it a Step Further
Recently, Fingeprint Cards and Valid partnered on a project: creating a module - designed by Fingeprint Cards - that can be simply integrated into any smart card. Called T-Shape, the ultra-low power consuming module was presented at Money 2020 USA.
It is currently being integrated into all top five payment smartcard suppliers globally, according to Thomas Rex, Fgerprint Cardin's SVP, Business Line Smartcards.
While Fingeprint Cards also partnered with Visa, Gemalto and Swiss Corner Bank in late 2019 to develop and launch a biometric credit card in Switzerland, their T-Shape partner Valid have also been busy.
Valid are currently developing biometric personal identification cards as part of the Brazilian state of Sao Paolo's smart city initiative and have also recently been asked by the Washington State Department of Licensing to equip of its offices with Valid's hardware and software with the aim of significantly reducing the time customers spend at a licensing office.
The EU has been working towards fully incorporating biometrics in passports and personal identification. Some of its constituents have been introducing biometrics for some time: France introduced biometric border controls in 2007, Netherlands made fingerprints mandatory for personal ID cards and passports, and Italy started issuing biometric passports in 2013.
India's Aadhaar program has enrolled almost 99% of the country's population over the age of 18 into a biometric identification system and China has been collecting biometric data as part of its visa approval process, requiring all ten fingers and voiceprints.
Not Obsolete at All
And there is, of course Apple. Motorola was the first company to introduce a fingerprint scanner in the mobile phone but it was Apple who popularized it with its Touch ID.
While in recent years the company has made a shift towards face recognition, it has not abandoned fingerprints.
Quite the contrary: both Apple patent activity and industry-wide speculation point to 2021's iPhones employing both fingerprinting and face recognition - after all, biometric security measures work great in unison.
In fact, it seems Apple is once again innovating and is about to introduce a scanner that can read a fingertip that hovers over a screen instead of requiring direct contact with it.
Fingertips are the Gateway to the Future
The benefits of a fingerprint authentication lie not only in the uniqueness of the fingerprint providing strong security but also in the goodwill fingerprint authentication engendered in consumers.
This bodes well for biometrics in general: the many early adopters of fingerprint authentication now feel more comfortable and are open to other, newer forms of biometric security measures. This is the kind of future-proofing that can only be earned through quality and points to biometrics in general - and fingerprinting in particular for longevity.
Amazon is reportedly developing hand-recognition technology for in-store payments in their Whole Foods and Amazon Go stores. Sources claim Amazon is working with both Visa and Mastercard on such POS transactions.
The technology reportedly only requires a one-time direct contact between the palm and the scanner, after which all subsequent authentications would be performed via a waving motion in front of the device.
If this solution is implemented, the e-Commerce giant may look
into expanding it into its digital commerce environment as well.