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Many Consumers Expect Advanced Biometrics in Payments’ Future: Survey
July 11, 2017

By Kevin Woodward

What’s the future of electronic payments? For many consumers, it’s one that incorporates biometrics for authentication and payments, finds a survey from Viewpost IP Holdings LLC, a business-to-business payments and invoicing provider.

In the survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers, Viewpost found that 50% believe fingerprint technology—already in use with many smart phones—will be used for authentication to pay and receive payments over the next 10 years.

Facial recognition—a technology widely expected to be part of an upcoming iPhone from Apple Inc.—is viewed by 35% of respondents as a key authentication technology in the same period. Thirty-two percent said they trust facial recognition for securing electronic payments. Security about using smart phones for payments is a longstanding issue for many consumers.

Retinal scanning and voice control also found backers, with 31% saying that retinal scanning is viable for payments authentication, and 18% believing there is a future for voice control.

Smart phones, like the iPhone and devices from Alphabet Inc.’s Google unit and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., have made more consumers comfortable using fingerprint authentication.

“Biometric controls like voice, retinal scanning, fingerprinting, and facial recognition are fantastic two-factor verification tools,” Pat McMonagle, Viewpost executive vice president of payment operations, says via an email. “Apps for fingerprint and facial verification are already used in the marketplace, with mobile payments and point-of-sale devices piloting the way.”

Using a fingerprint to verify an airline ticket purchase and to move funds within a mobile banking app is a common occurrence today, he says. “With the increase in identity management to help prevent fraud, the demand for these technologies is rapidly growing.”

The challenge for payments companies, as they embrace more multifactor verification tools, is “building a trusted repository of the biometric data points,” McMonagle says.

“For example, many travelers are okay with allowing Clear [an airport security service] to capture their fingerprints and retinal scans to expedite their passage through airport security lines,” McMonagle says. “But with a growing frequency of data breaches, who do you trust to hold your voice, retinal, fingerprint, and image data when it's connected to your bank account? Managing your thumbprint on your own phone is one thing. Trusting a third party with the same information, and your personal finances, is a whole different animal."

Other survey results indicate that 52% of respondents maintain that payments between companies and consumers will be exchanged via mobile apps in the next 10 years. Approximately 33% say that paper checks will disappear in the next five years, and 83% say they will be completely eliminated within the next 20 years.

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