South Africa sets standard for fingerprint banking

South Africa sets standard for fingerprint banking

South Africa's payments body has released a standard to enable biometrics to be used on payment cards and to herald what it hopes will be an industry-wide roll-out of fingerprint banking.

The Payment Association of South Africa (Pasa) developed the standard in partnership with MasterCard and Visa in a bid to bring more interoperability to biometrics.

At present, the use of biometrics in South Africa is limited to each bank at their own branches or for their own services rather than across multiple banks. For example, in May 2015 Standard Bank offered its smartphone users the chance to use fingerprnt readers to log onto their mobile banking apps

The release of the interoperable standard, which accepts fingerprints on a biometric reader, will not only enable customers to be recognised at banks other than their own but will also make it possible for different banks to exchange payment instructions via biometrics, says Pasa.

“Biometrics have been around for many years, but they have never been adopted in the payment space,” said Walter Volker, CEO of Pasa, who claims that the standard is an "industry-first".

“This [standard] unlocks network effects, as consumers are not ‘locked’ in a bank or a tech provider.”

According to Mark Elliott, Division President for MasterCard SA, there is a growing need for a biometric standard because of the growing use of smartphones in South Africa.The current 15 to 20 billion smartphones in use at present is expected to double over the next 10 years and many of these will be used as payment devices.

Furthermore, MasterCard's research showed that 65% of South Africans have an interest in using biometrics to authenticate payments rather than traditional PINs.

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