Biometric Authentication Secures the Future of Contactless Payment Cards

In the final post of our series on Contactless Smart Cards, learn how biometric authentication methods can become an effective way of securing the future of contactless payment cards.

Whilst the use of contactless payment cards looks set to remain a staple in our spending habits, the figures relating to card fraud certainly make for worrying reading. In fact, in 2019 alone, the cost of card fraud in the UK reached a staggering £395.9 million, and, despite the majority of payment cards featuring chip and PIN security measures, the number of reported cases of card present fraud has increased. This represents a considerable challenge for the payments industry, which becomes only more pressing as more and more consumers move away from using cash. Fortunately, the technology needed to tackle this issue is already here, in the form of biometrics.

What Is Biometric Authentication?

Modern technology can take advantage of our uniqueness to make sure that a person is exactly who they say they are. Known as biometric authentication, this technology takes a measurement of a characteristic which cannot be replicated by another person: for example, their fingerprint, iris, or voice. This means that when the person is called upon to verify their identity, they simply produce their unique characteristic to be authenticated.

How It Works?

This may take a number of different approaches, from voice samples, iris scanning, facial recognition to fingerprint recognition. Each technique offers various strengths and flaws, however, for the payment card industry, the fingerprint recognition approach is by far the most effective and practical. A fingertip sensor is small and lightweight enough to be easily embedded in a payment card, and is a cost-effective solution for the card issuers. Furthermore, it is almost impossible to fake a fingerprint authentication, making it a highly secure option. The consumer simply touches their fingertip on the appropriate area of the payment card in order to authenticate their identity and authorise transactions.

The Benefits For Consumers

As well as reducing the sums lost to card fraud each year, introducing this technology offers plenty of welcome benefits to consumers. The technology is quick and easy to use (most users will already be very familiar with using a fingerprint scanner to access smartphones and other electronic devices), and offers the reassurance that only they may pay for goods and services with their card. The fingerprint data is encrypted and stored on the card and never leaves it. These biometric cards can also help decrease financial alienation, by facilitating access to previously unbanked or underserved consumers even in remote areas of the world. Convenient to carry, these secured cards will allow consumers to continue to use their familiar contactless payment card with peace of mind, with an option to access digital wallets for those who prefer and have access.

The Solution For The Payments Industry

It seems clear that integrating a means of biometric authentication is the smartest move for the payments industry. As the missing piece in the payment card industry’s armoury, it is already gaining traction, with the US market predicted to reach $5 billion by 2026. With contactless cards predicted to remain the prevalent payment method until at least 2025, it makes sense to optimise their security, and a fingerprint sensor represents an economical and effective way of achieving this.

Biometric authentication is revolutionising the future of payment industry. Convenient to carry, these secured cards will allow consumers to continue to use their familiar contactless payment card with peace of mind.