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The Future of Cards, Contactless and Biometrics in Payments

By Thomas Rex, SVP at Fingerprints

It’s an interesting time for the humble payment card. Card payments have steadily risen in the last two decades, but innovation of the card has slowed since the launch of contactless over ten years ago. Until, that is, the recent entrance of the biometric payment card.  

Thomas Rex, SVP at Fingerprints

But what’s the value in updating the card further? Contactless cards have gained real traction in the last decade, especially in Europe. But with many markets across the globe still to take the leap to contactless, and others already looking beyond the card to mobile payments, how can we expect the card to continue to be a success?

Limitless convenience

Two major things concern consumers about contactless cards: security and convenience. For those already happy ‘tapping’ with contactless payment cards, the transaction cap is cited as a major point of confusion and frustration. Global limits for contactless card transactions differ per country, and remembering when you can and can’t tap can be annoying.

But of course, the higher the cap you have, the bigger the security concerns. This is where biometric payment cards come in. The beauty of biometrics is its one of the few security measures that doesn’t harm convenience: a winning combination of the frictionless contactless card UX with the trust of biometrics.

From current trial announcements, it’s evident that removing the payment cap is a major priority for banks, too. Take Société Générale in France and the recent UK announcement from NatWest – both are using the pilots to trial saying ‘goodbye’ to contactless transaction limits.

Taking the leap

While contactless card adoption has been a huge success in Europe, it’s staggered somewhat in regions still conducting their EMV® migration, such as Latin America and the Middle East. That’s all about to change, however.

With big players like Mastercard and Visa now mandating all new cards and payment terminals issued must be contactless-enabled, global growth of the technology is set to soar in the next few years. This sets the perfect stage for biometric payment cards to thrive internationally.

Banks still yet to incorporate contactless into their portfolio can now skip past the teething problems of traditional contactless cards and jump straight to delivering more secure and convenient biometric contactless cards. Plus, once retailers have made the initial contactless upgrade to their terminal infrastructure, no additional investment will be needed to accept these cards.

Keeping contactless cool

Added security may be the most obvious reason to upgrade contactless cards with biometrics, but let’s not forget the ‘cool’ factor! As banks try to keep pace with innovative Fintechs, biometric payment cards can offer their customers a more seamless UX, greater choice, and an exciting new form factor many will be keen to get their hands on.

The future of biometrics in payments extends far beyond just biometric payment cards, however. Offering the answer to the age-old digital finance conundrum of delivering security and convenience to consumers, biometrics will continue to increase its stake in the world of payments innovation in coming years. From contactless cards, to wearables, USB dongles and beyond – the possibilities are exciting and endless.    

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