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EMVCo, Payment Association EU weigh in on biometric payment card challenges

EMVCo, Payment Association EU weigh in on biometric payment card challenges

The year 2023 may be the year that biometric payment cards roll out at scale, according to some industry players. However, challenges remain for the technology, say representatives from institutions working in the field, including industry organization Payments Association EU and standard-setting organization EMVCo.

Biometric payment cards, which have a fingerprint sensor that allows users to authorize transactions with the tap of their finger, have been around for a long time, but the technology has been limited in volume, Jianhua Ni from EMVCo writes in a recent blog post. This is now starting to change. The technology has received a recent boost from the pandemic while production prices have dropped, leading to faster scaling.

Card makers still face certain challenges. Paying with biometric cards requires a unique combination of performance and power consumption, says Ni, who is the chair of the EMVCo CDCVM task force. As biometric cards are still not in widespread use, different payment systems have been introducing different performance and security requirements, leading to higher costs and complexities for companies that make biometric payment cards.

“Although biometric payment cards have been deployed in the marketplace for many years, issuers have primarily explored the technology through pilot projects and volumes have been limited. For various reasons, this is now starting to change,” he writes.

EMVCo has been responding to this new demand by setting technical specifications for EMV payment cards and launching a “Biometric on Card” initiative. The first step is developing a performance requirements document, including biometric performance characteristics which define how well a solution captures and matches biometric data.

The metrics EMVCo is using include False Acceptance Rate (FAR), False Rejection Rate (FRR), Imposter Attack Presentation Accept Rate (IAPAR) and Transaction time.

In Europe, consumer comes first

Europeans have expressed interest in ditching bank card PINs and replacing them with biometric solutions such as biometric payment cards, says Thibault De Barsy, vice chairman of the Payments Association EU, a payment industry group gathering 150 members. The solution has already been launched in France by BNP Paribas and in Poland by Pocztowy Bank.

However, European countries have also been slower to adopt biometric payment solutions compared to some other countries.

“At the European level there is a certain willingness to say that this is a valid technology but as always in Europe, we try to weigh the pros and cons because the protection of the consumer is very important,” De Barsy told Belgian media group LN24.

Protecting the interests and privacy of consumers is pivotal to building trust, he adds. However, different regulators have still not agreed yet on unified standards, he notes.

Companies such as Idex Biometrics claim that biometric payment cards are the optimal solution for security and privacy as sensitive biometric data, such as fingerprints, are safely secured on the card and are not transferred to servers.

In a recent blog post, Idex argues that bank card PINs are no longer capable of providing adequate security or delivering a convenient experience that consumers demand.

The Norway-based company, which has deals in place to supply payment cards to more than ten markets globally, including India, Turkey and the UK, recently received an order close to $1 million for its Pay authentication technology.

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