The best advantage of biometric identification or authentication over a password or pin-based authentication from a user’s point of view likely is that you simply can forget your password but you cannot forget your fingerprint. No wonder then that biometric authentication technology has found numerous applications within the past from office attendance systems to securing mobile phones.
Indeed, in spite of the fact that biometric innovation is being broadly utilized to form versatile payments utilizing digital wallets, we have yet to see its broad use in older method of digital payments viz, utilizing credit/debit cards. At the same time in the confront of a growing number of payment card scams, the card industry continues to thrust for way better use of innovation to secure payments and cardholders data.
Signature-based and pin based authentication is the foremost commonly utilized methods for payment cards at the moment. Two-factor confirmation with the one-time secret word (OTP) is commonly utilized to secure online payments. Pin-based authentication may provide better security than the signature-based method, but pins are difficult to remember, may be copied, are sent by post to the user and unless the cardholder is vigilant and careful, can easily lead to fraud.
To overcome the drawbacks of these current methods of verification, payment card manufacturers are exploring the utilize of biometric technology to secure card transactions. Consumers who are used to and depend upon this sort of authentication in other applications are moreover anticipating that this technology will soon be accessible in their payment cards. As per a study conducted by Visa, “86 percent of shoppers are fascinated by using biometrics to verify the identity or to form payments”.
For a layman, however, it is troublesome to imagine how a fingerprint or any other biological data can be consolidated in a credit card. Visa has propelled a pilot where the cardholder enrolls the fingerprint, which is safely stored on the card. The card also encompasses a sensor where cardholders can put their fingers for verification during a transaction. The card matches the scanned fingerprint against that stored on the card and indicates if it is valid or not. Once they become easily available, biometric payments cards could offer different benefits as follow.
- Strong security: This is probably the most important benefit. Fingerprints cannot be copied and will only be stored in the card, to ensure that cardholders data is protected
- Easy set-up: Biometric cards can be easily set-up at home without any other information required from the bank.
- Ease of use: There is no entry of PIN required with biometric cards. Authentication takes place only with a single touch of the finger at the payment terminal. This reduces the transaction time while making the cards an extremely user-friendly option
- Backward compatibility: Biometric payment cards will be compatible with existing payment terminals. No hardware/software upgrade will be necessary on existing payment terminals for merchants to start accepting these cards.
- Eco-Friendly: The biometric sensor will be self-charging, and there will be no need for an embedded battery or recharging capabilities for the sensor or the card.
- Common Interface: Since the authentication takes place on the card, the same method of authentication can be used for online as well as POS transactions.
- Guaranteed Uniqueness: As the fingerprint is one of your most unique features which can be easily captured and accurately matched, the card becomes automatically exclusive to the user. Merchants need not worry if the person using the card is the actual cardholder.
- Secure eCommerce: While EMV chip-based cards helped to secure card present transactions to a great extent, they did not do much for the card, not present transactions which are commonly required in e-commerce. With biometric authentication eCommerce providers can be sure that the user entering the card data is authentic card owner.
- Robust: The cards have a similar look and feel as the existing payment cards made from thin but strong plastic which is difficult to break. As such they are just as robust as the credit/debit cards we use at present.
- Forget Pin/Password: And finally, the benefit that we started with. There is no need to remember the Pin anymore and no need to worry whose birthday you set it to.
Even though Visa, Gemalto, and others have announced the first launch of biometric payment cards, it remains to be seen how soon they can become available to the common man. The migration should not take a long time though, as they are backward compatible and no upgrades are required at the merchant’s end.