Consumers are 'ready' for fingerprint payments

A trial held in France suggest that the majority of consumers would welcome biometric payment technology, with a significant proportion of UK shoppers also reported to be enthusiastic following a recent survey.

In the six month trial, more than 900 French customers of DIY store Leroy Merlin and supermarket chain Auchan were given the chance to make payments using only their fingerprint. Participants in the study carried a card which stored their fingerprint data, and a case that was used to communicate with the payment terminal. This meant that in order to pay, participants simply had to place their finger on the reader, which then read either their fingerprints or finger veins.

The study was carried out by Natural Security, and took place between October 2012 and March 2013. It involved the banks Banque Accord, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole and Crédit Mutuel Arkéa, as well as the two retailers.

Following the trial, 94% of participants said that they would be willing to use this method for all in-store purchases. Cedric Hozanna, chief executive of Natural Security, welcomed the result:

“We'll be using the results to feed into future developments, but undoubtedly it's been a success. Consumers are ready for this new type of payment method."

During the trial almost 5,000 transactions took place, which Natural Security, who are a part of Banque Accord, said was a success. The average transaction amount was €58.60.

A recent survey of UK customers by the payment processing firm Worldpay also found a strong interest in fingerprint payments. 49% of respondents said they would like to use fingerprint, palm or iris scanners - collectively known as biometric payments, whereas only 30% said they would like to use contactless smartphone payments, and 23% wanted to use text message payments.

Ron Kalifa, deputy chairman of Worldpay, noted the impact of the media on the public’s response to the new technology:

“It's interesting to see the public considering options such as biometric payments, a science that they may have seen in sci-fi films or on TV, which suggests familiarity and visibility of new payment technologies is crucial in moving usage from tech savvy enthusiasts to the wider public."

Another survey found support for even more ‘futuristic’ payment methods from UK customers. This survey, carried out by Avaya, the global provider of business collaboration and communications services, and Sabio, the contact centre technology specialist, which surveyed 2,000 UK consumers, found that 55% of respondents would be happy to use biometric voice technology when checking their account balance over the phone. These findings appear alongside reports of growing frustration with identity checks like security questions when people try to access their bank account over the phone. It appears that consumers are more and more willing to put their security in the hands of new technology.