Touch-Free Payment Technology – The Extra Layer of Security During Money Transactions

In the fourth and final post in our series on touch-free authentication, Art Stewart, Global Head of Sales & Marketing at IDEX Biometrics, discusses touch-free payment technology and the extra layer of security this provides during money transactions.

Most people in Europe and increasing numbers in the US are carrying  cards capable of making payments without touching a . Most have never used them that way, partly because the maximum transaction value is low, partly because of security fears. Covid-19 combined with a new security feature may finally persuade us all to make contactless payments.

Why do we need contactless?

Covid-19 has changed the balance of risks. The World Health Organization advised people to avoid both cash and keypads during the epidemic so more people have begun using “tap-and-go” on compatible terminals. However, raising the limit simply increases our potential losses, so the majority of people are still using checkout keypads.

Ironically, nearly all of us have used cards to make contactless payments – online and over telephones. Unfortunately, the level of fraud is high and a lot of people have experienced thefts. Banks reduced the problem of online fraud by adding an extra layer of security – the 3-digit CVV code. We need another layer of security at payment terminals too.

Biometric touch free authentication

Touch-free authentication is the solution. Touch-free authentication can mean any physical measure that confirms we are the person authorized to use that bank account. A whole range of solutions has been suggested including iris, facial or voice recognition or even the way you walk, but none are more reliable, convenient to use and now compatible with the smart card format than fingerprint biometrics.

Many smartphones and laptops have had fingerprint scanners for years. The scanners in smartphones are used to enhance  privacy and can also be used to authenticate identity.  The general public is well acclimated to the use case of fingerprint authentication. New biometric cards have now successfully incorporated an unobtrusive scanner onto the card itself.

Biometric cards authenticate their owner by identifying their fingerprint while they hold the card near the contactless point-of-sale machine. For the user, there is no difference in how contactless payment cards are already used, but the security is far greater. No exploitable account details are stored on the card and they provide end-to-end encryption.

The pros of biometric cards

Biometric cards answer most of the concerns that have dissuaded us from using contactless cards. They cannot be used by thieves, they cannot be duplicated by pirate scanners, and they do not raise privacy concerns.

As epidemic-control lockdowns end, financial services providers simply must protect consumers in crowded stores, sports stadiums and transport systems. Fingerprint biometric payment cards will provide safe touch-free payment authentication for all.

The previous post in our series on touch-free authentication looked at how the card is still king and why consumers prefer biometric cards over mobile payments.