Fingerprint-based cards were first introduced decades ago but failed to gain traction because they seemed overcomplicated at the time. However, following the pandemic, they are having a grand comeback in a number of markets.
While banks across Europe, Asia, and Latin America are actively reintroducing biometric payment cards and promoting them as a better alternative to their chip-and-PIN counterparts, experts argue whether they will take hold worldwide. Read on to find out what makes fingerprint biometric cards stand out from other payment methods and what the challenges related to their adoption are.
Why Are Biometric Cards Having Their Moment Now?
The newest versions of biometric cards use fingerprints instead of PINs to authenticate users and feature contactless technology. This enables consumers to avoid touching payment terminals or dealing with cash, which was extremely useful during the COVID-19 outbreak.
However, the uprising trend for this payment method doesn’t seem to be going anywhere even in the post-pandemic period due to the fact that biometric cards have plenty of advantages, including:
- High level of security. The cardholder’s fingerprint reference data captured by the biometric sensor never leaves the card - it is securely stored in its chip. Besides, biometric payment authentication eliminates the need for a PIN and prevents fraudsters from seeing your sensitive data during in-store checkout.
- Easy integration. Biometric cards are compatible with payment terminals used for traditional contactless- or chip-based cards, so they are fairly easy to integrate.
- Low maintenance. The biometric sensor is powered by the payment terminal, so there is no extra care or recharging needed for such cards.
- Convenience. According to Jack Forestell, head of global merchant solutions at Visa Inc., the world is rapidly moving toward a future free of passwords as users come to realize how biometric technologies can make their lives easier.
A recent survey conducted by Visa found that consumers are as willing to use fingerprint recognition for in-store purchases as they are for online payments. What’s more, of all the biometric payment authentication techniques for in-store usage, fingerprint recognition ranked the highest, with 50% of respondents voting for it.
The Challenges of Biometric Cards Adoption
Despite all the benefits of fingerprint-based biometric cards, some analysts are skeptical regarding their worldwide adoption. Here are some reasons why:
- Relatively high cost. One obstacle to the mass adoption of such cards could be the fact that they cost issuers about $1.50 more per piece. However, as the demand and production volumes grow, manufacturing costs are sure to decrease.
- Early adopters’ apprehension. Although there is certainly a growing interest in biometric cards, many consumers don’t trust this payment method just yet. It will take time to break the existing misconceptions about it.
- No added security for online payments. The use case for biometric cards in countries like the US might not be strong because the widely used EMV chips already prevent most counterfeit card fraud. When it comes to online payment fraud, biometrics in the physical card would not add any extra security layer.
- Growth of mobile payments. Mobile payments are steadily taking over the world and are expected to become even more prominent. With Apple announcing that it will enable iPhones to accept contactless payments, we can expect more app-based payments at the POS terminals, which makes experts doubt if the development of payment cards will be much-needed in the future.
As you can see, there are as many reasons for biometric payment cards to prosper as there are obstacles to it. So what does the future of this payment look like?
The Future of Biometric Payment Cards
There have been popular opinions that payment cards were doomed even 20 years ago, yet research and surveys keep demonstrating that even though mobile payments are on the rise, cards are still preferred by the majority of consumers.
With the pandemic giving biometric cards a fresh start and taking into account the progress in this tech field, it is highly likely that this payment method will find its niche. After all, biometric cards remove friction from in-store transactions, and both banks and consumers love it.
While biometric cards may not replace their traditional counterparts completely, they can become a great upgrade option for consumers and can offer a good return on investment for banks.