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The role of biometrics in creating a secure shopping experience

November 2018 by Marc Jacob

The advent of online shopping, and in-store click and collect has meant consumers have become accustomed to seamless payment processes. Customers can now easily make payments for small purchases on the go through their mobile wallets or contactless payment cards. However, this change in purchasing options, particularly contactless, has made card fraud even more convenient for fraudsters. Contactless payments have hit record levels of fraud this year, overtaking cheque fraud and hitting the unprecedented amount of GBP 5.6 million[1]. A third of payments are now being conducted via contactless cards, but consumers are becoming ever more aware that this payment option carries an associated level of risk – research from IDEX Biometrics shows that 63% of consumers are concerned that their contactless payments are insecure.

To combat contactless, and general payment card fraud, banks must work with innovators to find an effective and seamless solution to hold this rising risk at bay. For example, technology innovators have come up with an effective counter-measure using biometric authentication to block hacker malpractices. Biometric technology using fingerprint sensors has already hit the market as one way to combat this form of fraud and is being integrated into payment cards to validate the user’s identity. This technology is being hotly anticipated by consumers and banks alike and considered an effective alternative to PINs. When used in association with a payment card, biometric fingerprint authentication is expected to immediately curb the level of card fraud we are currently seeing.

Why biometrics?

Biometric payment cards deliver a fingerprint template and matching algorithms to strengthen payment card security. It is as simple as the cardholder pressing their finger on a sensor. The card will also have the potential to remove the current limit for tap-and-go transactions, as they will be personally authenticated immediately reducing the risk of fraudulent activity, however this decision will ultimately lie with card issuing banks.

Trials have been conducted in various countries and have been well received globally. This is a revolutionary attempt to push us closer to becoming a truly cashless society and ultimately delivers a highly secure shopping experience for consumers.

Enhancing the customer experience

Be it in their offices or on mobile phones, consumers are already aware of the value of fingerprint sensor-enabled technology. However, most shoppers, especially in developing countries, are yet to encounter the power of biometric-enabled payment cards. These cards conveniently cater to any type of purchase to speed up the transaction process. So next time consumers go to fuel up their vehicle or hang out with friends and family at a restaurant, they no longer need to carry cash and can be safe in the knowledge transactions will be secure.

Ensuring foolproof security

After gaining ground in multiple verticals such as human resource management, healthcare, forensics, and government agencies, biometric authentication is soon going to usher in a phenomenal change in the banking sector too.

You might already be aware that biometric security is unique to an individual and that it cannot be replicated. The authentication process assures ultimate accuracy eliminating any chances of forgery. It also reduces the administrative burden upon financial organisations and increases return on investment (ROI). It can be safely stated that biometric-enabled payment card systems are a revolutionary step towards addressing card fraud. Besides simplifying online and offline transactions, displays on biometric enabled cards can also be used to show additional information such as card balances or verification feedback.

After passing a series of tests, biometric authentication has been acknowledged to be the answer to consumer security. Fingerprint sensor technology for dual interface, contactless only and contact-based only cards has successfully underpinned customer trials across the globe underlining the huge demand for biometric smart cards throughout the payments industry. In fact, IDEX Biometrics’ research also shows 53% would trust the use of their fingerprint to authenticate payments more than a PIN.

So, it is evident that consumers are very ready to adopt biometric-enabled payment cards and recognise how much safer this form of authentication will make their transactions. Consequently, global financial services providers need to embrace this biometric technology and pave the way for more efficient and secure payment processes, whilst delivering an improved customer experience.’

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