News & Views - Savantor

Increased use and acceptance of biometric technologies

Saturday, 16 September 2017

The use of biometrics in payments has been much in the news over the past month.

A supermarket in London is trialling a biometric payment system that uses vein technology to pay for goods. The technology works by scanning a person's finger veins with infrared and linking this unique biometric pattern to their bank cards.

The Costcutter supermarket has said it would consider rolling Fingopay out more widely if the trial, at Brunel University, was successful. Apparently the company behind the Fingopay technology, Sthaler, is currently having serious discussions with other UK supermarkets to introduce finger vein scanners at pay points across stores in the UK.

The much-hyped and awaited launch of the latest iPhone also took place, introducing a facial recognition system as a means of owner ID verification for the iPhone X instead of a fingerprint based one. It is interesting that Apple's confidence in the security of its facial recognition technology contrasts strongly with that of rival Samsung: in March, after reports that the new Galaxy S8 could fooled by photos, Samsung confirmed that it would rely on fingerprint and iris recognition for payments.

According to a recent survey undertaken by Worldpay, nearly two thirds of UK consumers want the option to be able to authorise in-store payments using a biometric scan, with the most popular method being fingerprint technology.

Face, iris and voice recognition technologies are also considered acceptable at 24%, 33% and 18% respectively of the survey sample undertaken of 2500 people.

Consumer acceptance of and trust in these technologies is likely to be highly influenced by technologies in use on smartphones, hence we can expect to see facial recognition as a means of identification becoming more acceptable due to the 'Apple loyalty effect' of the iPhone.

It will also be interesting to follow the progress of the introduction of vein technology – whilst clearly it has a cost associated with it to support the technology, nevertheless it is described by supplier Sthaler as "the safest form of biometrics with no known breaches".

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