End of PIN Codes?

Let’s face it, everyone has forgotten their PIN codes at least once in the past.  One of the worst possible customer experiences is when they select what they want to buy in their beloved shop; go to the cashier and just after puling their payment card out of their wallet, they realise that they cannot remember their PIN code for the card. Either that, or they remember many PIN codes but can’t remember which of them belongs to the right payment card. In both cases, funds in their account becomes inaccessible just like that.

Of course, it is understandable that PIN codes helps to keep money in your account safe. But isn’t there a better solution which would be more convenient and still at least as safe as PIN codes if not more? It seems that the payment cards sector has a solution for this – Biometrics.

In essence, we can say that biometrics for card authorisation are already used. For example, in the case of mobile payments such as Google Pay or Apple Pay, the customer is not required to enter any codes. The user just needs to unlock their phone or use a finger-print scanner and it is considered as sufficient proof of identifying that the person intending to make a purchase has valid access to the funds he is trying to use.

Biometric technology has already successfully been adopted for mobile phones. Perhaps traditional plastic cards could improve further and benefit from this technology as well. It seems that the payments sector has started to seriously consider this, as both Mastercard and Visa recently announced that they already have pilot cards in production which use this type of customer authentication. Also, TietoEvry recently announced that they are interested in launching this type of card in Nordic/Baltic markets.

How would it work? As it would be hard to expect all acquirers and merchants to start upgrading all of the POS devices, industry seems to have taken an easier step - to put a finger-print scanner on each of the plastic cards, which is biometrics enabled. This way data privacy questions could be addressed more  easily, as finger-prints would be stored within card and sensitive biometrics data would not be sent to any other device. Additionally, customers could record their finger-print the first time they receive their cards and use it throughout the card’s lifetime. Therefore, there would be no need to go to bank branch or perform any other actions which customers are not fond of.

 

So that would be future of this technology? As it seems to be an improvement from usual chip and PIN technology on both convenience and security side, we could guess that a substantial segment of customers would be interested in these cards. Also, it would be an excellent opportunity for some of the cards issuers to present themselves as more innovative.

Paying with a Credit Card