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Building Trust with Biometric Cards—Less Friction, More Security

How we managed payments only few years ago is now going through a big change on every level. Not only are we seeing the expansion of digital platforms, but also new products like digital wallets and biometric cards are popping up everywhere.

Biometrics are used to identify individuals using unique identifiers such as facial recognition, iris verification, fingerprint scans, and voice recognition. Technology is now playing a key role in providing a safe authentication process that should eventually replace passwords, PIN codes and ID cards.

Attitudes towards digital ID and the perception of digital identity are fundamentally changing. Since security in banking is pivotal, all financial institutions have to raise the bar when it comes to secure ways of confirming a client's identity for authorized transactions. And there's no better way than biometrics.

Increased Interest in Biometric Cards

Biometric payments are on a major rise that is noticeable across various banking sectors. Interest is being fueled by convenience, as this technology makes identification much easier than before.

Fingerprint technology has become a part of our everyday lives due to smartphones that allow users to unlock their phones using their fingerprint for authentication. Banking apps picked up that trend because users could unlock their bank accounts and authorize a payment with a simple touch.

Biometrics have also tackled some of the biggest PIN fraud challenges, like shoulder surfing and shared pins, with high success rates. Being passive, this technology is not intrusive and it doesn't have a significant impact on the user experience.

Biometric authentication vs Passwords

In general, people believe that biometrics are much faster, more reliable and easier to use than passwords. When it comes to switching away from a provider if they don't have biometric cards in their offer, around half of respondents indicate that they would turn to another card provider if theirs cannot offer biometric authentication.

In a recent NFC World survey, 84% of consumers worldwide used biometric authentication methods, and 70% of them used fingerprint authentication compared to 43% using facial recognition. Visa conducted research and found that 61% of respondents thought that biometric authentication was easier to use than passwords, and 70% found it faster than a password. What's more, more than 50% of respondents said they would leave their bank if it didn't offer biometric authentication.

Ease of Use

More than ever, clients are expecting seamless and hassle-free payment experiences. Biometrics can address their needs while mitigating fraud risks and minimizing the need to memorize different passwords or reset PINs.

How biometric authentication works

The on-card data flow has four distinct steps:

  1. Image capture
  2. Image processing
  3. Feature extraction
  4. Biometric matching with the stored template

Everything starts with capturing the image of the fingerprint. Then, the fingerprint image is extracted to check whether it matches biometric templates safely stored on the card. Once there's a match, the transaction will go through.

Benefits of using biometric cards for users:

  • Increased security as the fingerprint biometrics are stored only on the individual’s card.
  • Hardware upgrades are no longer necessary.
  • The card doesn't need charging, as the payment terminal powers it.

Benefits of using biometric cards for merchants:

  • No need to use additional support during transaction processing.
  • Greater certainty of the cardholder's identity.
  • Increased revenue from fewer false declines.
  • Fewer declined transactions due to forgotten PIN codes.

Security

As there's no technology that is impossible to hack, biometrics addresses some of the PIN's biggest problems and fraud challenges. Biometric cards align with EMV standards, but they take security one step further.

The risk of information leakage is reduced to a minimum with biometric cards. All data is safely stored and processed on the device—and it's unique to that device. For the data-conscious consumer, this is particularly important, as all their data remains stored and encrypted in their device at all times.

Secure element (SE) is known to be one of the most robust hardware solutions, as it provides exceptional protection while eliminating many points of risk in the process.

Top concerns users have when using biometric authentication:

  • Risk of a security breach
  • Concern that authentication won't work
  • Cost of having a biometric card
  • Potential privacy issues

Conclusion

The evolution of contactless card payments is an ongoing process. Fingerprint authentication is considered a mature and trusted technology that is quickly overtaking PINs to ensure security and reduce fraud.

The security of biometric cards is proving superior when it comes to ease of use and protection. Ensuring robust security and privacy is still important, as banks worldwide are starting to offer biometric cards to their clients.

With many obstacles overcome in 2021, banks and card providers should start adopting biometric cards more quickly and establish partnerships that will further strengthen their growth.

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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Biometrics

Biometrics are the new weapons of war against online fraud and supporting financial services with biometric authentication and their KYC (Know Your Customer) procedures. ​ There are many different areas where biometrics are being deployed. For example in digital identity; an alternative to user names and passwords; protecting against ID theft; account takeovers and multiple accounts. ​ Mobile biometric authentication is helping to verify new and returning customers at the point of log-ins, payments and digital on-boarding.


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