Yesterday Mastercard announced its new fingerprint enabled credit card. Instead of using your pin code to authenticate the payment, one can use a finger or a thumb to authenticate the payment. Is this solution really improving the payment experience? Is it actually solving a problem? This last question is very important when validating a new solution like the MasterCard biometric card.
The biggest problem consumers encounter when shopping is standing in line at the checkout. So, reducing the payment processing time will reduce the waiting time at the cashier. But it doesn’t really alter the fundamental situation. What do customers want? They don’t want to stand in line anytime. In the future, paying without standing in line, without making contact with a payment terminal is the ultimate solution. Take for example paying for an Uber taxi ride, paying your groceries at Amazon’s line-free grocery store in Seattle, or the MyOrder partnership with Tamoil for fuelling your car without going to a cashier.
The MasterCard biometric card might save consumer’s precious time. But is it reducing checkout time with seconds? What’s the response time of a biometric card transaction? Does it really save lots of time compared to a pin transaction? And when using a contactless EMV debit- or credit card, do we then really win seconds? I doubt it. Reducing checkout times is not the biggest topic on consumers mind. The rather low adoption of Apple Pay is an example, and the mobile wallet concept that should reduce the time standing in line didn’t lift off yet. So probably it’s not really solving a problem.
However, from a fraud perspective replacing pin by a biometric identifier is a great solution. But companies like MasterCard, Apple, and Samsung should be very serious about the encryption of biometric data. A hacker that hacks a database of fingerprints can use this for malpractices, for example identity theft. A pin code is easy to replace, but your fingerprint being hacked means “being hacked for life”. You only have ten fingers, that can’t be replaced.