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Biometrics in Payments: Touching Convenience

25th of November 2015

Biometrics has been the next big thing for over two decades. Have we finally reached the point where biometrics is ready to take off in mobile banking and payments?

In early 2015 Mobey Forum carried out a survey about biometrics amongst 235 respondents from Europe, North America and the Middle East, 59% of which were from banks and other financial institutions and 32% were from solution providers.

The paper focuses on the applicability of biometrics as a method of identification, authentication and authorisation for services in mobile banking and payments services. It contends that the acceleration of mobile in the banking sector has been critical for getting biometrics out of the starting blocks. In partnership with mobile, biometrics offers considerable benefits, especially with regard to user experience. It should be noted that biometrics is also potentially valuable in other areas of financial services such as employee screening, know-your-customer, online dealing transactions, and insurance.
For banks and payment service providers, security is a minimum requirement, but convenience wins customers; they will not adopt security measures that are inconvenient. This is confirmed in the results of the survey and also by prevailing consumer attitudes to biometrics. Fuelled by the Apple ‘cool’ factor, users appear generally positive towards biometrics at this point, even across a range of age groups.

At the same time, historic concerns about biometrics, for example with regards to accuracy and price, are no longer so pressing. Other concerns, like security, however, still are. For biometrics to succeed, it must be used in combination with secure technologies for storage and processing.
Mobey Forum survey shows that the vast majority of banks intend to implement biometrics in the relatively near future, just as the number of handset manufacturers planning to integrate biometric capabilities into their devices rises.

One effect of this integration of biometrics into mobile handsets is that it has removed a significant level of cost from banks. Banks must beware though that they do not lose a similar level of control. Biometric modalities that use integrated handset peripherals like the camera and microphone may help mitigate this issue by limiting the influence of OEM third parties.

To move forward, banks must make a range of choices about factors such as system architectures, biometric modalities, proprietary or open solutions, security, and collaboration versus competition.

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