UK bank NatWest has begun a pilot program in what is being called the country’s first biometric fingerprint payment fob. While it is in its testing stages, the bank has offered the new device to 250 customers on a three-month trial. It’s part of a move on the part of the banking giant to improve payment security and improve the client experience. The new fob now makes it easier for customers to pay for purchases up to £100 and marks the first time that contactless payments have exceeded the current £30 limit.
NatWest’s trial comes as more options are being made available to all types of businesses and consumers via mobile payments and are challenging banks’ credit card dominance. Deloitte notes how more consumers are making use of digital wallets like Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and others to streamline the secure checkout process. At the other end of the spectrum, businesses are also adopting new technologies to provide a faster and more streamlined customer experience. In an introduction to card machine payments by FIS, the company highlights the potential scalable options with today’s card reader setups, aimed at addressing the needs of both businesses and their clients. This way, the new NatWest biometric payment trials have the same goal: to make secure payments more convenient.
The trial also highlights the growing prevalence of biometrics usage in mobile payments. A report from digital market research specialists Juniper Research indicates that the growing implementation of biometric authentication is projected to secure $2.5 trillion (£1.8 trillion) in mobile payment transactions by 2024, which is a tenfold increase from the $228 million (£172 million) forecasted for this year. The report also cites how contactless cards and devices, much like NatWest’s fob, will be me more widely used than contactless payments through smartphones for multi-factor authentication, for better security, which will drive the adoption of biometric payments by merchants.
From a security point of view, however, NatWest’s biometric fob is a good option to avoid identity theft and criminals masquerading as a banking client. But a cybersecurity expert at cybersecurity company Kaspersky stated that while biometrics are technically the best option for security, they warned that it may not be that simple. Although a device’s physical hardware may be secure, the issue is with the biometrics databases. Often these aren’t held in a secure and encrypted environment with the financial institution, rather with a third-party contractor which may not be as secure as you think.
Despite this, the fact that these incidents have happened previously has educated financial institutions to bolster their security and greatly reduce the chances of compromised databases. Gloucestershire Live reported that NatWest is working with Giesecke+Devrient Mobile Security and VISA to make the service secure and deploy it to UK consumers. In this sense, technologies that can make our lives easier and increase the security of payment options will be highly sought after in the next few years. Biometrics is, therefore, a key component of secure, convenient payment options.