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UK consumers and businesses agree biometric payment coming but split on modality

More than half of British consumers believe biometrics will be used for payments in the future, compared to only 8 percent for microchip and wearable technology and 3 percent for augmented reality, according to a new survey from merchant services provider Paymentsense.

The Future of Payments” survey shows that 29 percent of consumers and 17 percent of business owners believe fingerprint scanning will be used most in the future. Just over a third – 36 percent of consumers and 35 percent of business owners – say none of the advanced technologies suggested would be used, or did not know. Voice is actually the biometric modality selected by the most business owners, at 18 percent, followed by fingerprints, then iris scanning (12 percent) and “Face ID,” which here means all facial recognition technology. Consumers are slightly less bullish on face (8 percent) and iris (11 percent), but only 6 percent believe voice will be used, the biggest proportional discrepancy between consumers and business owners. Only 5 percent of consumers say they use biometrics for payments today.

The relatively even spread between modalities in the opinion of business owners is one of the notable takeaways from the research, as the difference between the modalities businesses are least and most enthusiastic about is only 7 percent.

Overall, 54 percent of consumers plan to use biometrics the most in the future, and 58 percent of small business owners identified a biometric payment system as the advanced payment technology they are most likely to adopt.

“Today contactless transactions are becoming the norm and, when combined with next generation biometric cards, could enable contactless limits to be increased or even removed,” says Howard Berg, SVP of Banking and Payment at Gemalto. “Other biometrics such as facial recognition may also have a role to play and, of course, outside of its smart phone application, facial recognition is becoming the norm at E-Passport Gates.”

Contactless biometric payment cards from Gemalto were recently selected by UK bank NatWest for an upcoming pilot project. A recent study from IDEX shows that 38 percent of UK consumers would also like biometric authentication extended to government identification systems.

Cash is still the most trusted payment method for 68 percent of those surveyed, while 45 percent trust chip and pin transactions, and only 17 percent trust contactless payments. Despite this, contactless payments are growing rapidly, and recent data from Transport for London shows they were on track to become the most popular way to pay for public transit trips in the city by the end of 2018. Further, contactless payments for London transit are projected to grow from nearly 873 million in 2018 to more than 1.5 billion by 2024.

The number of card transactions in the UK, meanwhile, are expected to increase from less than 21 million in December 2017 to more than 47 million in December 2020.

Small businesses are mostly comfortable doing without cash payment, and 69 percent say they have implemented new payment technologies, but 40 percent say they would not be able to handle cashless payments in the event of a power outage.

“The study highlights not only what advances Brits want to see in payment technology, but how businesses will need to adapt to these changing consumer demands,” comments Paymentsense Chief Marketing Officer Guy Moreve. “Those who adopt new payment methods such as fingerprint scanning and voice ID will surely surpass future competition.”

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