Biometrics in Support of Strong Customer Authentication

The arrival of SCA (or Strong Customer Authentication) is creating pressure for financial institutions, who need to overcome the challenges presented by this new approach to security. Whilst SCA is intended to better protect the consumer, the need to add an extra step to the process of making payments or transfers is causing friction, with challenges such as inconvenience and being time-consuming cited by detractors. Yet, in fact, there is no reason why implementing the new SCA regulations should create friction, and it can even provide institutions with the ideal opportunity to modernize.

What Is SCA?

Strong Customer Authentication is an initiative mandated by the EU, and governs electronic transactions made in Europe. Requiring that any payments or transfers made online are verified through a minimum two-factor authentication process, SCA is designed to offer valuable peace of mind to consumers through its improved security. SCA is based on the three principles of “something you know” (such as a PIN or password), “something you have” (such as a payment card or smart device such as a cellphone), and “something you are” (relating to each person’s unique, measurable biometrics such as voice, fingerprints and face), with any two approaches to be employed whenever a transaction is to be carried out.

Authentication Biometrics Hold The Key To SCA

As a solution to achieving SCA compliance involves biometric technology, the market for payment cards with integrated fingerprint sensors is growing fast. Biometric payment cards are not only impossible to use by anyone other than the registered customer but also offer a familiar, trusted means of authentication that adds convenience and peace of mind to the process of making a payment or a transfer.

The biometric smart card has an integral chip which contains all of the necessary authentication data pertaining to the holder’s fingerprint (thereby avoiding the risk of data being held online), and simply by presenting the finger, the consumer can enjoy contactless payments without any transaction limits. There is no need to remember a PIN or password, making this new type of payment card the perfect means of delivering a seamless customer experience every time.

Indeed, the FCA has already recognized the value of authentication biometrics: “New and maturing technologies, such as biometrics. . . have enabled the market to develop reliable and easy to use digital ID tools” [1], meaning that this technology will be integral to the long-term success of the financial industry. The FCA also recommend that financial institutions smooth the way by being fully transparent with consumers about the evolution of payments, in particular as consumers already are familiar with this authentication method thanks to its use in, for example, smartphone technology.

The Right Solution For Businesses And Consumers

By choosing to integrate a fingerprint sensor into payment cards [2], financial institutions can future-proof their customer experience, in addition to ensuring that the overall customer journey is compelling enough to give them the edge over their competitors. Offering additional benefits such as removing the need for transaction limits or PINs, easy to use fingerprint sensors are the easy way to meet SCA compliance with unbeatable security credentials. Authentication biometrics is the future.