Why Fingerprint Sensors are Critical to the Future of the Payments Industry

The way that people make payments has changed a great deal over recent years, with innovations such as digital wallets gaining popularity, whilst more traditional methods such as cheques have fallen out of favour. With contactless payment methods now seen as fundamental to our spending, the time is right for payment card issuers to focus on ways to make this process as secure as possible. The technology needed to achieve this is already available, in the form of the fingerprint sensor.

The Rise of Fingerprint Sensor Solutions

The development of fingerprint sensors can be seen as a watershed moment in delivering cost-efficient, reliable security in an easy-to-use format. And this versatile technology has evolved considerably since the first optical fingerprint scanners were produced in the 1990s [1]. Now, both the cost and size of fingerprint sensors have reduced dramatically, allowing these units to be added to a host of everyday items as a means of authenticating user identity.

With the decline in the popularity of cash seen over recent years (and accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic) [2], the payment card is more in demand than ever. The UK alone saw a 35% reduction in cash transactions in 2020 [3], compounding the slower 15% decrease in such transactions seen since 2017. In its place, payments made with cards and in particular dual interface cards with contactless functionality have risen.

The Challengers to Payment Cards

It’s not only payment cards that can facilitate contactless transactions. There has been a notable increase in transactions made using digital wallets, which offer convenience and speed via smartphones and even wearable tech such as watches. This means that although payment cards are predicted to continue dominating for at least the next ten years, issuers must not become complacent. With customers becoming ever more in demand of convenience and security, card providers should look at how to improve their products to better meet customer needs.

The Ideal Solution

The integration of a fingerprint sensor is an excellent technology solution to fulfill the growing need for improved security and fraud prevention. Using a biometric sensor is intuitive for many, thanks to its integration in smartphones and other devices. This means that customers are accustomed to and have an innate confidence in fingerprint authentication. The unique nature of each person’s fingerprint eliminates the threat posed by fraud, making PIN or password requirements redundant, and even allowing transaction limits to be scrapped. Indeed, the latest fingerprint authentication technology is more than twice as secure as the traditional PIN method, offering customers valuable peace of mind, particularly as the incidences of card fraud have increased.

An Evolving Technology

Fingerprint authentication is undoubtedly the future of payments, offering security that is unrivaled by existing methods such as the PIN. Challenger bank, Rocker, has recently become the first in the Nordics to offer a full-scale biometric payment offering, the Rocker Touch. Representing a revolutionary approach to security, these sensors allow for convenient, fast authentication in a myriad of financial applications, from making contact-free payments in shops to paying bills safely online. And, as research and development continue in this area, the banking industry can expect that these benefits will only be compounded as time goes on.


[2] IDEX source text
[3] https://www.ft.com/content/c4c39abc-93b2-46f5-a731-9dd95840b841