Biometrics: Security on Our Fingers

Security is always a hot topic in the world of finance and banking and that’s nothing unusual.

Clearly, we are living in the age of constant digital threats and, therefore, financial institutions must continually work to improve their security systems by searching and implementing innovative technological solutions.

One of these is certainly biometrics, an advanced technology which, in short, provides authentication and verification based on people’s physical and behavioral characteristics. Yes, we are talking about “futuristic” solutions, such as finger scanning, facial recognition or retinal scanning. But, the future is already here and we are ready to embrace it.

In a world of 3,6 billion internet users, online shopping is the fastest growing payments channel. According to researchers, the majority of customers believe using biometric forms of payment authentication will be more suitable and easier than the now ubiquitous passwords and PINs. At the same time, people generally expect fast, personalized, simple and safe online payment experience.

For example, European consumers are interested in using biometrics when making a payment, especially when integrated with other security measures, a recent Visa study reveals. Nearly three-quarters see two-factor authentication, where a biometric technology is used in conjunction with a payment device, as a secure way to confirm an account holder.

Customers Want to Use Biometrics

When looking at the range of different payment situations, whether at home or in shops, 68 percent of research participants want to use biometrics as a method of payment authentication. Visa researches claim that online retailers have the most opportunity for gain as 31 per cent of people have abandoned a browser-based purchase because of the payment security process.

The study also reveals that fingerprint recognition is the most popular form of biometrics, thanks to its ease of use and security. A large number – 81 per cent! – of consumers perceive fingerprints as the most secure form of biometric technology, followed by iris scanning (76 per cent). This is why 53 percent of participants prefer fingerprint over other forms of biometric authentication when using it for payment.

53 percent of consumers prefer fingerprint over other forms of biometric authentication when using it for payment.

Excitement in Payments Space is Growing

According to Jonathan Vaux, Executive Director of Innovation Partnerships at Visa Europe, biometric identification and verification has created a great deal of excitement in the payments space because it offers an opportunity to streamline and improve the customer experience. Among others, he also says that the research shows that biometrics is increasingly recognized as a trusted form of authentication as people become more familiar with using these capabilities on their devices.

In short, consumer confidence regarding the new security solutions indicates that a payment revolution has begun. This provides a great opportunity (and challenge) to banks and the whole financial sector. Payment with just a touch of finger? Sure, why not? As long as it is secure.

“As we move into the future, consumers will have an increasing number of choices in how they pay. Just as the payment behavior will change dependent on where you are and on what device you are shopping, the methods of authentication will need to be use-case appropriate. While biometric forms of authentication offer significant opportunities to achieve the right balance between convenience and security, they are not the only answer. In the future we will see a mix of solutions dependent on the purchasing situation.”

Jonathan Vaux

Biometrics – Faster and Easier

Regarding the benefits of biometric authentication, more than half of Europeans (51 per cent) state that biometric authentication for payments could create a faster and easier payment experience compared to traditional methods. Furthermore, a third of them like the fact that biometric authentication means that their details would be safe even if their device was stolen or lost, shows the study of over 14.000 European citizens.

Voice and Facial Recognition? Maybe Not Just Yet.

The Visa study shows that an equal number of people (73 per cent) are as comfortable with fingerprint authentication as they are with solution based on PINs. On the other hand, a few people prefer voice (12 per cent) or facial recognition (15 per cent) as a payment method in a range of payment situations, i. e. whether buying physically in a shop or shopping online at home.

What do European Customers Want?

When asked where in particular they want to use biometric authentication, European customers stated as follows:

Source: Visa Biometric Payments research

These results clearly show that biometric authentication is almost equally valued in face-to-face payment situations where speed efficiencies are a priority as it is for internet transactions.


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