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By Lina Andolf-Orup, Fingerprints

It’s quite hard to believe that we’re already entering Q4. For the biometrics industry, it’s been a unique and exciting year – one marked largely by its increasing convergence with the world of payments.

For payments and biometric lovers alike, it can be hard to keep pace with the rate of innovation. From cards to crypto, market trials to product launches, here’s our round-up of 2018 so far.

Biometric payment cards: gathering momentum

A huge payments-biometrics milestone has been the birth of a new form factor: the biometric smartcard. While work to adapt mobile fingerprint sensors for card has been ongoing for the past few years, 2018 has seen the technology go from the lab to trial, partnering with banks, vendors and schemes across the globe.

Back in January, the first contactless biometric card trial with Visa in the US was announced in collaboration with Kona-I. Since then, the interest from banks and retailers has multiplied rapidly. We have seen trials in Japan with JCB, in Cyprus and Lebanon together with Visa and Zwipe / Gemalto, and much further afield.

Across Asia, we’ve been responsible for bringing the first biometric contactless smartcard reference to the Chinese market, and have collaborated with IDEMIA in Japan. Both countries – famed for their high mobile payment penetration – show a real appetite for the technology. In fact, our research shows that one in three Chinese consumers are already using fingerprint biometrics to verify mobile payments, and 67% would want to have biometrics on their payment card. Biometric authentication brings a familiar, unifying UX to card payments, delivering greater choice and flexibility to consumers, combined with a security solution trusted from its use in mobile.

Trial feedback has been positive and varied, reflecting the diversity of each market and the unique regional pain-points biometric smartcards have the scope to tackle. We’re committed to investing in enabling a full-stack of enrolment solutions to cater for various market and user needs, and with more trials planned for later this year and next, watch this space for more global updates.

Biometrics is branching out

Already securing mobile payments and now adding extra security to cards, why stop there? As the payment world looks at how it can deliver increasingly seamless payment experiences, biometrics is quickly becoming the means to unify how we pay, whichever way we pay.

From ‘selfie pay’ solutions, to wearables and USB dongles, biometrics is adding value to the user experience across a number of payment form factors. One exciting project for us was the launch of GTID’s first iris enabled point of sales (POS) terminal, Apnapay, in India. This unique market-first project enables consumers to pay smoothly and swiftly, without lifting a finger.

Cryptocurrencies…on a card?!

If further proof was needed that the humble payment card is ready for the next generation of digital consumers, the cryptocurrency card is it. All secured by biometrics, of course!

Fingerprints’ technology is playing a central role in standardising secure customer authentication across new ‘crypto cards’ and their partner mobile apps. We announced in July that our technology will be integrated into the biometric cryptocurrency card from MeReal Biometrics and Unikeys, while also delivering secure payment authentication to the cryptocurrency wallet from SCTECHONE.

While we can’t determine which cryptocurrencies will come out on top, biometrics has the capacity to support a new digital currency age as it reaches the hands of more and more consumers.

More to come…

This year has seen unprecedented engagement and endorsement from the payment industry in biometrics. Soon, trials will become deployments and testing will become certification.

As biometric technology is ready for integration beyond mobile, one thing is for certain; collaboration with key stakeholders, from payment schemes and industry bodies, to banks and vendors, will be central to ensuring biometrics continues to add security and convenience to payments in multiple environments, and for various users.

To keep up with the latest Fingerprints news, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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