Preparing The Consumer for SCA

In our third and final post in the series on SCA (Strong Customer Authentication) Catharina Eklof, Chief Commercial Officer at IDEX Biometrics, talks about educating as well as preparing the consumer mindset for SCA.

The introduction of more stringent SCA (Strong Customer Authentication) compliance requirements should be welcomed by merchants and customers alike. After all, reducing the risk of fraudulent card activity is of benefit to anyone who makes or processes card transactions, be that in person in a brick and mortar retail outlet, or, as is increasingly the case, via online platforms. Yet thus far, the measures taken to strengthen payment security have been met with consumer dissatisfaction. With over 46% of UK shoppers stating that they would give up on a transaction that required two-factor authentication and 37% claiming that they had been forced to abandon payment due to difficulties with the authentication process.

Redefining the consumer experience

However reluctant the average consumer may currently feel, it looks inevitable that the US will follow the EU and UK and make SCA compliance a mandatory requirement and soon. The events of 2020 have proved a watershed moment in the rate at which the customer experience has leapt towards a contact-free, cashless approach, driven largely by necessity as physical retail outlets were forced to shut their doors or maintain new hygiene standards. Unfortunately, with the rising use of contactless payment methods, comes an increased risk of misuse or fraud. This means that consumers must now be educated in the safest ways to spend their money in this “new normal”.

Consumer education

This education must focus on preparing customers for more stringent authentication measures when they make contactless or cashless payments. Two-factor authentication for payments over a set amount will dramatically reduce the risk of fraud, and should ultimately build vital consumer confidence. This approach, which relies on a consumer providing their details alongside a pin or password (something they know), a token such as a smartphone (something they have), or biometric authentication (something they are) – is felt to be unwieldy and time-consuming by many. Consumers must be shown that such SCA is an easy and beneficial tool that protects their interests, but as already seen in the UK and Europe, this is proving problematic. The onus is on the financial institutions and card providers to build vital consumer confidence and help ensure that the transition to SCA is as seamless as possible.

Biometrics in use: fingerprint sensors

Happily, an effective solution is already available. By including fingerprint sensors in a payment card, consumers can achieve the two-factor authentication required as part of SCA without any inconvenience to themselves. As a non-invasive biometric method, the use of such fingerprint sensors not only removes the need to memorize a pin or provide any other identification token, and can actually speed up transaction times as a result. An added benefit of including such an authentication method is that today’s consumers are already broadly familiar with the technology involved. Modern devices such as smartphones, laptops and tablets increasingly rely on fingerprint recognition as a security measure, meaning that including a fingerprint sensor in payment cards is highly likely to be accepted by the public.

Educating the consumer and spreading awareness about SCA is a major challenge for payment industry right now. Simple to use and incredibly secure – this approach will ensure that card providers can roll out the affordable, reliable SCA compliant payment methods that will be needed in the very near future.


The previous post in our series on SCA (Strong Customer Authentication), we discussed about challenges of SCA and how to overcome them.