How consumers are looking forward to Biometric Payment Cards in terms of security and hygiene?

Welcome to the first post in our series on ‘Are we at the tipping point for global biometric payment card adoption?’ In this post IDEX Biometrics discusses how consumers are looking forward to biometric payment cards in terms of security and hygiene.

There are two global pandemics underway; one is Covid-19, and the other is fraud. With luck, the imminent deployment of biometric payment cards will help to make history of both.

During the Covid-19 lockdown, scrutiny has been focused on Point-of-Sale keypads as a potential route of infection. How great the threat is, is hard to guess but it has prompted many people with contactless cards who never previously used them to start. Several governments and lenders have raised limits on “tap-and-go” payments to encourage their use. This appears to be working, at least temporarily. Customers who use a card in any other way are advised to clean their hands and their cards after every use, using soap, hand sanitizer or alcohol wipes.

Consumer reluctance to use debit and credit cards to make contactless payments has been based on two things: fears that the method is inherently open to fraud and the low limits that issuers and payment networks set on the transaction value, which confirms those fears. Consumers don’t only worry about the safety of tap-and-go payments; many choose not to use a payment card at all. In the US, about a quarter of all transactions still use cash even though 90% have some kind of plastic in their pocket.

Even the chief cashier of the Bank of England and the Head of ID and Fraud Decision Strategy at Equifax have said old-style contactless cards are unsafe.[1] With or without a coronavirus to worry about, both banks and their customers are desperate for safer ways to do business.

Biometric cards set to roll

Numerous types of biometric identity tests are available, but the easiest to combine with a payment card is a fingerprint sensor. Simply holding the card is enough to confirm that the card is registered to the user. Because the match is performed on the card, there is no central repository of templates and any data on the card itself is encrypted, thus alleviating any civil liberty and data security issues.

In principle, fingerprint validating cards could be used both for contactless payment or as an alternative to PIN numbers in ATMs as well as at point-of-sale readers. ID validating cards could also be used as a relatively safe method of proving your ID for other purposes.

Biometric cards have been in trials for months. Public hygiene and the urgent need to reduce fraud could see them appearing in our pockets by the end of the year. As long as the public stand behind the safety of the technology, for both their financial transactions and civil liberties, the future is looking bright for everyone.