Biometric payment at our fingertips
The subject of biometric payment is more topical than ever before. Although other types of biometric information, such as the iris or face recognition, could be used to validate a purchase, fingerprints are the leading technology used so far.
Two solutions are in fact possible when it comes to ensure fingerprints belong to the right person: match-by-system and match-on-card.
The match-by-system process consists in performing the authentication operation on the system. The customer's fingerprint is captured at the point of sale and securely sent to the biometric system via the banking IT infrastructure. The system matches the sent fingerprint against the reference one, acquired when the bank account was opened. The match-by-system model is being used for instance in India and could be introduced in countries where the new customer acquisition rate is high.
The other system addresses more mature markets such as Europe and North America where banking channels are already widely spread. It offers the possibility of leveraging on the already existing bank card model, making match-on-card the biometric authentication solution. The principle of this solution is simple: like the pin code on today's cards, the fingerprint model is actually stored on the card's chip and instead of matching the PIN code, the card verifies the fingerprint. The user can therefore be authenticated without having to connect to an external database: the biometric data remains in the consumer's hands.
A move towards safe, practical payment
Biometric payment offers a number of advantages: no PIN to remember, greater security, reduced maintenance effort compared to PIN Pad, capability to add biometric on top of PIN over a customizable amount. The security couple What I have (the card) and what I know (the PIN) is replaced by a much more powerful What I have (the card) and What I am (biometrics).
"If the use of biometrics for payment is a recent idea, Morpho has mastered all the technology required for such a project for many years now through being No.1 worldwide in secure biometric identification documents," emphasized Ocke Rörden, Head of Marketing for Morpho's Payments Business Unit.
In addition to banks, payment schemes like MasterCard and Visa as well as standardization bodies like ISO and EMVCo[[EMV (Europay Mastercard Visa) is the international standard for chip-based credit and debit card security.
]] are already showing an interest in biometric payment. Rollout rate will then depend on the level of technological progress in terms of smart cards in the countries concerned. Rörden explained: "Our wide range of ID and payment card products already supports biometric match-on-card fingerprint, iris or face authentication today."
One final benefit of the biometric authentication technology is that it can also be used to safeguard online payments or to digitally sign online contracts, using a computer equipped with a suitable fingerprint reader. "Morpho has developed all the hardware and software, and projects are now underway," Rörden concluded.
 EMV (Europay Mastercard Visa) is the international standard for chip-based credit and debit card security.