Mobile biometric payments must look beyond fingerprints to take off: report

biometric payment
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Mobile biometric payment volumes are set to triple this year, but payment providers must be sure to offer consumers multiple biometric alternatives, says a new study by Juniper Research.

The number of mobile payments authenticated by biometrics will rise to nearly 2 billion this year, up from just over 600 million in 2016, according to the report, Mobile Payment Security: Biometric Authentication & Tokenisation 2017-2021.

The report found that while Apple Pay had provided the catalyst for initial growth, other leading wallets including Android Pay and Samsung Pay were increasingly offering biometric solutions for authentication.

Furthermore, the size of the opportunity has been boosted by the greater availability of fingerprint sensors. Around 60% of smartphone models are expected to ship with such sensors this year, with many Chinese vendors incorporating them into mid-range models, Juniper says.

However, there is also increasing momentum behind alternative biometric solutions. Mastercard is an early leader in this space through its Identity Check Mobile capability, due to go live later this year. Informally known as “selfie pay”, this allows users to scan their fingerprints and/or take selfies to validate their identities and thereby make payments.

Meanwhile, Juniper expects to see strong adoption of the authentication app recently unveiled by India’s identification authority, through which merchants can verify a customer’s ID via either fingerprint or iris scan. Since the biometric data is linked to a bank account, the process acts as both authentication and transaction enabler.

However, argues research author Dr Windsor Holden, the key challenge for service providers will be striking the right balance between end-user convenience and solution security.

“Typically, the more secure the solution, the more time-consuming the authentication process,” he said. “It is essential to offer a range of verification options allowing clients to determine what level of security is required for a given authentication.”

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