Stay ahead of the changing payment world with the contactless payment process

Welcome to the fourth and final post in our series on ‘Contactless payments in the age of coronavirus’, where David Orme, SVP of Sales and Marketing at IDEX Biometrics, discusses how to stay ahead of the changing payment world with the contactless payment process.

We can’t survive without money, but money also struggles to survive. Money has to find new forms, escape growing dangers and compete against rivals. The contactless smart card is a survivor, and it has rediscovered an old trick.

Trading has always been the driving force of civilization. It is the secret behind the rise and fall of empires and languages. Yet, it hasn’t always been easy to trade, and when people become unable to trade, they tend to fight.

It matters little what a currency is, provided that everyone can trade it. Protecting your freedom to trade – safely and fairly – is vital in your own self-interest and that of society at large, but threats constantly arise from thieves, tyrants and Mother Nature. It’s not a new problem, the ancient Babylonians were sealing deals with a fingerprint in 500 BC to prevent forgery and provide an audit trail. There is, as they say, nothing new under the sun: today’s problems and solutions are in our hands – literally.

Why you should keep your fingers to yourself?

Coronavirus is neither the first nor the last epidemic to devastate the world. Early in the lockdown, the World Health Organization warned everyone to avoid using cash and point of sale keypads. There are good reasons for caution.

Most coronaviruses, rhinoviruses (that cause colds) and influenza only survive on human skin for minutes. They don’t last long in the air either, but on hard surfaces, they can remain infectious for a week. That means it could be easier to get infected from a shared object than from touching an infected person. This isn’t news. MRSA has been found on cell phones nine days after they were last used. Hepatitis survives a few hours on skin but a week on hard surfaces. Even rigorous cleaning is no guarantee: streptococci biofilms often survive intact.

A recent study of banknotes in New York found hundreds of bacterial species including E.Coli and Salmonella. Even keyboards used by a single person have three times more germs than a public toilet seat. Public keypads are almost certainly worse. Contactless payments clearly protect public health.

The contactless smart card just got smarter

Staying ahead of the dangers means learning to trade in new ways, even when the solution is something old – like fingerprints. The disadvantage of contactless cards was that thieves could use them, so low payment caps were imposed, but soon they will have fingerprint sensors. That means only their rightful owner can use them.

This makes the plastic card safer than internet shopping, which is notoriously open to fraud and safer than a smartphone’s digital wallet. Smartphones are bulky, fragile, costly and limited by their battery life. Because a biometric smart card cannot be hacked and only stores private data on itself, it also offers better protection from centralized databases which can be hacked. .

The previous post in our series on ‘Contactless payments in the age of coronavirus’ looked at how effective is the single-ownership biometric payment card during this pandemic time.