The Role of Biometric Payment Cards in Bridging the Inclusion Gap

In our previous blog post, we examined how biometric payment cards can help to make a real difference to the security of our increasingly cashless society. Financial inclusion is a priority in the banking sector, as 1.7 billion people worldwide are not using banks or other financial services [1]. In addition, those with conditions such as dementia, learning difficulties, problems with literacy, or visually impairment may struggle with traditional payment methods. These groups can struggle to remember their PIN or to enter their details into a card reader when required, leaving them behind in our increasingly digitized world.

A Biometric Payment Card Is the Solution

Biometric payment cards are a solution that can dramatically improve financial inclusion levels and deliver a highly secure means of user authentication. By introducing a biometric fingerprint sensor into payment cards, it becomes extremely simple and intuitive to use, requiring no additional information, such as a PIN or signature. Users can simply touch the fingerprint sensor integrated into the card to verify their transactions.

Biometric payment cards are already proving themselves invaluable in promoting financial inclusion, because of their ability to help overcome the challenges faced by many vulnerable groups. There are an estimated 2.2 billion blind and visually impaired people globally [2]. For the more than 55 million people living with memory difficulties caused by Alzheimer’s or dementia [3], a simple and convenient payment method allows them to partake in a cashless society fully. Similarly, the 750 million people categorized as “functionally illiterate” [4] will be able to pay bills and services securely and seamlessly.

The benefits of biometric payment cards extend beyond increasing financial inclusion levels. They can significantly reduce card fraud, as seen in India, where internal fraud and pension leakage decreased by 47% following the switch from cash to using biometric payment cards [5]. Additionally, in Pakistan, the number of people able to open digital mobile wallet accounts has risen from 5 to 15 million since 2015, providing evidence of financial inclusion in action.

It’s evident that if financial institutions are keen to reach out to vulnerable groups, then fingerprint biometric authentication can help facilitate inclusion for many of them with a convenient, simple, and secure way to make contactless and online payments safely, many millions of people may no longer be excluded from our increasingly cashless society.