News & Views - Savantor

Biometrics and payments

Sunday, 16 October 2016

The past few weeks have seen news released of a number of biometric developments in the payments industry. A recent report by Visa shows that 64 per cent of consumers are keen to start using biometric data as a method of payment authorisation.

Biometric technology is being widely trialled and is already being used by a number of banks. It includes fingerprint recognition, voice recognition, facial recognition, iris scanning, and behaviour recognition. Even heartbeat recognition is being explored as a means of secure identification.

The form of biometric technology that is most familiar to the general public is fingerprint recognition, as it is used by many smartphones in lieu of a password. It is also used to authorise payment transactions, for example with Apple Pay, or as a means of identification for mobile banking, such as offered by HSBC.

Use of voice recognition technology is likewise becoming increasingly more common in UK banking, with both established banks such as Barclays and HSBC and smaller challenger banks such as Atom. It is proving to be a popular technology to introduce as it does not require users to acquire hi-spec equipment.

Facial recognition is also an area of biometrics that is expected to grow rapidly over the next few years. Atom is the first UK bank to allow customers to access their accounts by means of their facial features. Lloyds Banking Group has just introduced facial recognition technology for opening a current account online with Bank of Scotland.

Other areas of biometric technology such as heart and behavioural biometrics are also being explored as a means of authorising transactions although they are still in the early stages of development.

In the Visa study, fingerprint recognition software was the most popular form of biometric payment, with 88 per cent of respondents viewing it as the most secure form of payment. Iris scanning was deemed secure by 83 per cent of people, but only 65 per cent were comfortable with facial recognition technology.

So how secure is the use of biometric technology? Biometrics are considered more secure than passwords because passwords can be guessed or even shared with other people. Nevertheless there are concerns about security, particularly if fraudsters manage to gain access to the biometric details, as they are integral to an individual and cannot be changed. However the Banks appear to be of the view that the technology is nevertheless far more secure than traditional passwords and PINs.

In spite of the concerns, biometric technology in payments is obviously here to stay and is making steady progress into becoming part of everyday banking.

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