Payment cards are trusted by consumers and widely accepted by merchants, making them one of the most popular payment form factors.
The use of contactless cards is increasing due to the convenience and speed of contactless payments.
There are, however, barriers to adoption. Varying payment limits and the friction and confusion they cause, and security concerns about both lost and stolen cards and attack techniques like card skimming, are holding many consumers back. Biometric authentication methods offer a fast and user-friendly solution to these obstacles.
Offline cardholder verification methods (CVMs), which can be performed whether the payment acceptance terminal has an internet connection or not, are fundamental to lifting the cap on contactless payments. It is widely accepted across the payments ecosystem that the fastest and most convenient offline CVMs are biometric. Biometric authentication methods increase security, addressing consumer concerns regarding fraud, and have the added benefit of aligning with legislation that mandates robust and secure customer authentication such as the Second Payment Services Directive (PSD2).
As such, banks around the world are building a not-too-distant future where biometric authentication is an everyday experience that enhances security and trust while increasing convenience. In 2018, over 70% of all smartphones shipped featured some form of biometric authentication capability (ABI Research, 2019) – clearly demonstrating that this technology has been embraced by consumers. Most banking and payment smartphone apps are already using the fingerprint verification capabilities of these platforms to perform cardholder verification. Furthermore, more than 20 contactless biometric payment card trials have already been announced across Europe, Asia, North America and the Middle East as it benefits end users (convenience, security). This is primarily to further increase end user convenience and security, but also benefits financial institutions – the use of a biometric payment card at point of sale instead of an OEM-pay allows banks to regain ownership of the payment process.
In addition, biometric authentication performed by a contactless card can be deployed without any modification of the contactless reader infrastructure nor any significant change in consumer behavior. To authenticate a transaction, a consumer simply holds the card with a finger positioned on the sensor – i.e. in the same way they would hold a contactless card over a POS card reader now.
These figures are encouraging, but there are challenges facing the development and deployment of biometric payment cards. Ensuring that the convenience, user experience and level of security aligns with established mobile payment solutions, such as Google Pay and Apple Pay, is crucial to harmonize the user experience across different form factors. Any fragmentation caused by a lack of interoperability across different payment form factors would severely hinder biometric payment card adoption.
GlobalPlatform helps mitigate these challenges by providing a forum for all ecosystem participants to agree on mutually acceptable solutions. Its unique ability to bring biometric vendors like Fingerprint Cards, interbank networks like Cartes Bancaires and industry associations such as EMVCo and Eurosmart together has been fundamental to the successful international deployment of its specifications.
The association’s proven capability to establish secure and interoperable solutions for the payments and financial technology industries and ongoing work to extend and improve platform specifications is supported by its respected certification and accreditation processes.
Industry Partner Comments
All of the top global card manufacturers are currently engaged in the development of biometric payment cards, and the global card schemes are also supporting these initiatives. GlobalPlatform has an impressive history of developing standardized security for financial technology, payment cards in particular, and is the natural home for biometric card specifications that ensure robust security, global interoperability and reduced time and cost to market. These early stages of trials and initial deployments are the time to harmonize solutions and establish a baseline level of security and that is what GlobalPlatform does best.- Jonas Andersson, Head of Standardization, Fingerprint Cards