Biometrics shaping our everyday payments

It feels outdated to unlock a smartphone using a PIN. This was a part of our daily lives until not too long ago. We used it multiple times a day. In five years, will payment card PIN codes feel as outdated as they do today for smartphones?

Smartphones taking biometrics mainstream

It feels outdated to unlock a smartphone using a PIN. This was a part of our everyday lives, and we used it multiple times a day until not too long ago. Apple introduced fingerprint unlocking iPhones in 2013. Smartphone owners use their fingerprints 52 times per day to unlock various functions on their smartphones. For millennials, the number is 152 times per day. Biometric authentication is becoming more common with smartphones’ widespread use. Globally, 78% of consumers have used biometrics to authenticate themselves. 74% are positive about biometrics. Today, fingerprint is the most widely used biometric, with 63% of global customers having tried it. Next, facial has been tested at 25%, and iris at 20%.

Biometrics seeping into payments

Biometrics gained a lot of attention with the introduction of Apple Pay in 2014. There are many other examples that follow, making everyday transactions more efficient, safer, and easier. These payment methods have become more familiar to consumers, and 82% of global customers are now willing to use biometrics to verify a card payment. The acceptance of biometrics for card payment authentication is likely to be higher in countries that have adopted contactless payments. This is despite the fact that the current limit on these payments is 30 EUR. 72% of respondents are actually in favor to allow contactless payments beyond the current limit as long as security is maintained. Biometrics offer the promise of seamless contactless transactions that go beyond the limit without compromising security.

Biometric authentication enabling financial inclusion

India is undoubtedly in the top biometric position on a global scale. India has created a digital identity that includes fingerprint, iris, and facial biometrics. It is now available to over 1.3 billion citizens. Postmen in rural areas are a recent example of how this identity could be used to improve daily lives. A handheld biometric reader device is used to identify citizens. The postman then brings cash to the doorstep and debits the account with the appropriate amount. Biometric authentication combines security and convenience to Indian citizens. A biometric sensor card could be used to distribute social welfare payments, which is a very interesting idea for governments in developing countries. The card would be distributed to the eligible citizens. The card would be used to pay out pensions. Citizens would then be able access their pensions by using biometric authentication at existing POS terminals. This solves two problems: unauthorized persons can’t access the pensions or pensions that are being distributed to the deceased, and identity and life status must be proven each time the card is used. This also means that citizens don’t have to physically present themselves in government offices located far from their homes to prove that they are still living.

The bright future of biometric authentication in payments

A recent study found that 2.6 billion people will use biometrics to authenticate their identities by 2023 4. Soon, our cars will be able to authenticate payments with our faces. Where will this all lead us? In five years, will payment card PIN codes feel as outdated as they do today for smartphones? This may be possible, given the rapid advancements in technology and the positive attitude of consumers around the world towards biometrics. We will only know the truth over time.