The importance of security when it comes to payments, confirming actions, money and finance cannot be overemphasized. With the continuous advancement in money systems, methods of payments, payments technologies, etc., the need for security is very paramount.
Money keeps evolving. Transactions and systems associated with money keep evolving too. Money has grown from barter items to coins to paper and now digital currency. Completing payments, transactions, etc. have also changed – they have moved online. Although these systems are faster and more reliant, there is the problem of security threats. To combat this, banks and companies in the financial space have designed solutions such as signatures, pins, passcodes, etc., that users can use to confirm their identity when they are making payments needed to complete financial transactions.
But this has proved to not be enough…
There have been numerous cases of financial hacks and frauds in the past. Digital payments are not completely foolproof from hacks and frauds. The cryptocurrency space, for instance, has recorded hacks worth millions of dollars that could have been prevented if there was a much better security system.
Newer technologies have continued to evolve the banking, commerce, and finance world. And so has security. Biometric authentication technology is one of the newest technologies that have emerged as a potential solution to digital payments challenges. The belief is that this technology can bring about the evolvement of digital payments and help in the development of a payments structure for the budding metaverse. But first, let’s explain what biometric technology is all about.
What is biometric authentication technology?
As the word biometric suggests, this technology is highly dependent on the biometric information of users. The technology uses biometric information such as face scans, fingerprints, and voice recognition to confirm the identity of users before an action can be confirmed.
The use of biometric technology is vast. Apart from confirming and making digital payments, their application can be seen in securing homes, airports, military bases, entry ports, etc. The technology has also made it onto our smartphones, computers, and consumer devices, which remains one of its largest applications.
The types of biometric authentication include facial recognition, fingerprint scanners, voice recognition, and eye scanner.
Facial recognition works by scanning the facial features of a person and storing this information on a database. It then compares the information on the database to confirm the identity of a person whenever an action needs to be authenticated. This mode of authentication is already present in smartphones today enabled by their cameras.
This is the most popular authentication method. They have wider use cutting across various industries from banks to technology. This method relies on the fingerprint of people to carry out authentication. It also may be the most reliable type of authentication because the fingerprints of users are unique and cannot be mistaken for that of another person.
Although it is highly reliable, it still has its shortcomings but it still is the most reliable form of biometric authentication and has wide usage.
Today, fingerprint scanners are present in almost every smartphone and are used to verify the identity of a person before access to a device is granted.
This is also one of the most effective and less used biometric authentication methods. The technology uses the voice of a person as a distinguishing factor creating a voice profile that is set to be recognized whenever a user speaks. The technology can be used irrespective of voice changes due to sickness and weather factors and can be designed such that access will not be granted when imitation occurs.
Eye scanners take the retina or iris information of a person and store it in a database. When access needs to be granted to a person, depending on the type of eye scanner being used, the retina is scanned to recognize blood vessel patterns, or the pupil’s color ring is scanned to match unique patterns.
How did biometric authentication make its way into payments?
The digital shift created the need for solutions like biometric authentication. Companies, banks, commerce, payments, etc., all moved online. People are becoming more and more comfortable with accessing services and making payments online – they find it convenient and fun. All they need is their smartphone and there is an end to what they can do and achieve.
The need for security, risks of hacks, and demand from people brought the wave of biometric authentication into payments. Tech companies such as Apple and Samsung have integrated biometric security to confirm payments. Currently, Samsung’s mobile payment wing Samsung Pay allows users to authenticate payments by simply staring at their phone’s front-facing camera.
The use of smartphones has increased compared to half a decade ago and this growth isn’t expected to stop any time soon. Experts believe that by 2023, mobile biometrics alone will authenticate $2 trillion worth of in-store and remote payments.
Although fingerprint and facial scanning are the most used method of biometric authentication, the use of other methods especially voice and eye scanning is expected to become prevalent.
Biometric authentication is making inroads. Recently, Mastercard launched a biometric technology that’ll allow retailers to offer biometric payments. This technology will enable shoppers to make in-store payments using biometric information such as their facial identity, hand, or fingerprint. Amazon also launched something similar not too long ago – its technology scans the palm of users to authenticate payments.
Biometric authentication is expected to catch on more as time goes on. The expectation is that it becomes the main deal when it comes to security for digital payments. It has proved to be more secure than the present security solutions. Although there are arguments about how safe it is, cryptocurrency companies have started to integrate them on their platforms.
Experts believe that biometric authentication can be used to unlock a payment infrastructure for the metaverse. With the development of AR and VR, this doesn’t look impossible.
The advantages of biometric authentication are quite endless. It is simple to use, simple to set up, time-saving and personal, environment-friendly, and highly secure. Its major disadvantage, however, is that the technology is costly.
If developed and the rate of adoption and integration increased, biometric authentication could be the panacea that the finance world needs to solve its security challenges.