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The bright future of biometric authentication in payments

Biometric authentication in payments is changing. Here’s what this means for consumers and businesses.

It’s not so long ago that biometric authentication felt like it belonged to the realm of science fiction. As we punched in four-digit codes to access our devices – maybe for a quick game of Snake – the idea we may be able to do so using eye-scanning seemed fanciful, at best.

But now, consumers access devices using facial, thumbprint, voice and more without batting an eyelid. The future has arrived, and we remain unmoved. Thankfully, biometric authentication still has more to give us, and in payments, the technology is rapidly evolving to deliver greater security, convenience and a more seamless experience for consumers.

Here, we look at what the next stage of biometric authentication in payments could be.  

The state of biometric authentication in payments

Consumers now demand a blend of security and convenience in their payments, and so it’s no longer enough for businesses to place emphasis on one over the other. Our recent Lost in Transaction research, which surveyed 14,500 consumers in North America, Europe, the UK, and Latin America, found 69% of respondents expect a frictionless checkout, while 64% of those who shop online say security is the most important factor when choosing how to pay.

Businesses are now under pressure to meet these needs, improving security, increasing trust and de-risking fraud, without sacrificing the experience. Two-factor authentication, for example, has a role to play in payments, but it can add an unwelcome hurdle for consumers, and can lead them to abandon their online shopping cart.

This is where biometrics come in. Biometric authentication in payments can help deliver a payment experience that’s as seamless as it is secure. Here’s how this technology is evolving.

How are biometrics changing?

A number of factors are contributing to the development of biometric authentication, including evolving tech like AI, mass mobile adoption, and the development of 5G, which provides consumers and businesses with greater bandwidth than ever before.

As for the future, advancement in biometric authentication will likely be incremental, rather than with a single, standalone hardware update – driven by greater usage and continued technological improvements.

So what does the next step in biometric authentication look like?

A look to the future of biometric authentication

Users of smart devices will be familiar with how biometric authentication has developed in recent years – from fingerprints, to face ID and more.

In the years ahead, this will become increasingly sophisticated as consumers put more information into their devices – health data like blood pressure, for example. With this data, multi-factor authentication (MFA) patterns that are unique to individuals will improve.

This has the potential to offer far greater security for consumers, and so businesses are pushing to drive these improvements. This is more pressing than ever, with the fraud landscape evolving along with new technologies.

Artificial intelligence (AI), for example, is now capable of beating early biometrics – allowing attackers to impersonate peoples’ faces and voices. As a result of this evolving threat, businesses must bring together different biometric patterns to deliver the next level of security, ensuring fraud is avoided, and consumers can enjoy a secure, trustworthy payment experience.

How to reach the potential of biometric authentication

To drive consumer adoption of biometrics businesses must push security and trust as part of their brand values. Consumers want their assets to be handled by businesses that put security first and will ensure their data won’t be shared with other parties.

For businesses, this means clearly explaining that data security and privacy are part of their DNA, and outlining why this is so important. This will help build trust with consumers.

That said, businesses also need to be wary about how they discuss the threat landscape with consumers. After all, there’s a thin line between education and stoking fear. Most consumers who use financial services are just buying goods through retailers – they likely won’t know about the intricacies of fraud in the world of AI.

Businesses should be open about the fact these threats exist, without resorting to fearmongering. As consumers gain a greater understanding of the threat landscape, new types of biometric authentication can become more widely accepted to keep their data secure.

A look ahead

The future of biometrics will benefit consumers in ways that many may not have considered. Each year, companies lose huge amounts of money to fraud, which harms profitability and is then felt by customers as solutions and products become more expensive.

With biometrics providing greater protection against fraud, businesses can become more profitable, and consumers can enjoy lower-priced, higher-quality products. Biometric authentication can contribute to this bright future.