Are Biometrics Really The Stumbling Block to Mobile Payments?

by Tim Sloane 0

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This article in Planet Biometrics argues that ‘a “prudent mix” of biometric running on smartphones offers the best opportunity of clocking growth rates of over 200% in 2016.’ The idea that biometrics alone will help clock growth rates of 200% is silly and the need to utilize multiple biometrics is already well recognized as indicate by the fact that Google has already stated its intent to eliminate passwords before the end of this year and is already testing these multimodal solutions with banks. The article states:

“Current systems will need to add biometrics in order to hasten adoption and meet expectations of astronomical growth rates, according to a study by Lux Research.

In terms of modalities, a “prudent mix” of biometric running on smartphones offers the best opportunity of clocking growth rates of over 200% in 2016.”

The problem here is that biometrics can’t help grow payment transactions if mobile devices aren’t accepted at merchant locations. Today acceptance is a much bigger problem than biometrics.

The article is based on a research report from Lux Research “Securing Mobile Payments with Biometric Authentication.” While the research appears to offer a reasonable evaluation of different biometric hardware technologies including palm vein sensors and iris scanners, it appears to ignore user biometrics that can be collected using existing mobile sensors, such as voice, accelerometer and cameras. If this article is accurate it also ignores the fact that smartphones are already utilizing fingerprint scanners for payments and access to bank services.

That said, data from fingerprint scanners will be combined with information related to gait, facial, eye recognition, vocal structure, and emotional state and will provide authentication sufficient for most consumer payment and banking transactional needs in the very near future and banks need to establish a strategy to deal with this fact.

Overview by Tim Sloane, VP, Payments Innovation at Mercator Advisory Group

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