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2022 is when biometric payment cards will go mainstream: SPA report

Pilots and standards accelerating take up, Zwipe rollout, Idex turnkey ramp up
2022 is when biometric payment cards will go mainstream: SPA report

An increasing number of pilots and now commercial rollouts of biometric payment cards, plus the development of standards all point to the secure and contactless payment method going mainstream as soon as 2022, according to a new report by the Smart Payment Association (SPA).

From setting out the possibilities of biometric match-on-card technology in 2013, the SPA has seen something of a revolution among its members. Within five years the EMVCo, which develops specifications and product certification for issuers and payment networks, had issued functional and security biometric specifications which has paved the way to more than 20 biometric payment card pilots currently underway and the first commercial deployment, by France’s BNP Paribas. With member feedback and the 2020 ABI Research report, SPA is expecting critical mass deployment to happen in the next year.

The COVID pandemic has been an accelerator for contactless payments. In the UK, contactless payments account for around 57 percent of all in store payments, according to Fingerprint Cards or 72 percent of card payments, with Computer Weekly putting the figure at 88.6 percent of card payments in 2020.

The SPA believes the general familiarization with biometrics from smartphone use is leading not just to acceptance for biometric payment cards, but demand as the biometric element is seen as more secure.

Research by Visa and a study by Fingerprint Cards in collaboration with Kantar shows that consumers have a clear preference for contactless card use rather than digital wallets, with little growth predicted for the latter. FPC found that 62 percent of consumers would switch bank in order to get a biometric card (rising to 70 percent among frequent contactless card users), and 42 percent are willing to pay an average of US$10.70 extra a year for a biometric card (rising to 74 percent among frequent mobile pay users).

More than half (53 percent) of UK consumers have doubts over security if their card is stolen and there is confusion over payment limits. Then the limits rose again, from £45 to £100 ($133), among the highest in the world. Biometric payment cards may assuage people of their doubts as lower limits can be set for when the fingerprint is required or it can be a necessary step for every payment.

The SPA report states that biometric cards can also improve financial inclusion where literacy levels may be low and users unaccustomed to entering PINs or passwords. The association is also exploring integrating the technologies into digital and crypto currency wallets.

Idex partners with tier one manufacturer, signs digital currency MOU with another

Norway’s Idex Biometrics has announced two further deals for its turnkey solution biometric cards. It is entering a strategic cooperation agreement with a global tier one smart card manufacturer, offering reduced costs and accelerated time-to-market with its TrustedBio reference design.

“This agreement represents the first major design win for Idex TrustedBio turnkey solution,” comments Vince Graziani, Chief Executive Officer of Idex Biometrics. “This agreement confirms that Idex Biometrics is enabling the acceleration of market deployment for biometric smart cards. Together with our partner we will take to market a state of the art biometric smart card solution delivering secure and seamless user experience to millions of consumers globally.”

The firm has also signed a memorandum of understanding with Tongxin Microelectronics, a Chinese supplier of secure element microprocessors, to collaborate on business opportunities where fingerprint authentication is applicable.

The partners will first jointly develop a turnkey reference design for a biometrically-secured, stored-value card for use in Central Bank Digital Currency initiatives.

“Our partnership now will go beyond technical collaboration to joint marketing in China. Initially, we are focusing resources on a comprehensive reference design for Chinese card manufacturers seeking to accelerate their participation in the rapidly developing digital currency initiatives,” said Graziani.

“Our goal is to involve affiliate companies within the Tsinghua Unigroup organization in the collaboration with Idex Biometrics. Linxens, the global leader in smart card inlays and related interconnect solutions, is one such affiliate and is expected to participate in the development of the digital currency card reference design.”

Zwipe pairs with GEPCOM to take biometric cards to Saudi Arabia

In further Norwegian biometrics news, Zwipe has announced another partnership to take biometric payment cards to a new territory. This time pairing with card producer GEPCOM, the partners will take Zwipe Pay ONE to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other markets.

The partners are working with issuers in Saudi Arabia to launch pilots in Q2 2022 to be followed by commercial rollouts.

“GEPCOM has been manufacturing card products for all sectors in the Middle-East and is recognized in the market for its unmatched service, transparency and quality,” states Abdullah Ahmed Abed, deputy general manager and regional director at the firm. “With the impact of the pandemic still being felt across Saudi and the world, consumers’ focus on safety and hygiene has increased significantly.”

The news follows recent announcements by Zwipe that it is launching its Zwipe Pay ONE biometric card in Morocco and North Africa, Chile and Latin America, Lebanon and Iraq.

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