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Payment Industry: Bridging the Breaches with Biometrics

-by Kuljit Singh and Varun Narang

What could be the natural course of action for an industry grappling with multiple demons, such as hacking, theft, infringement, and transgressions? The solution lies not in prayers, but in technology; especially one that is difficult to violate. Almost like a quintessential blessing, the rise of biometric could be the solution that the payments industry truly needs to tide this crisis over. The solution seem promising and over time it is likely to overcome its current shortcomings to be able to bridge the breaches and if it is able to do so, it would be significant step in making payment channels more secure.

Experts say that 65 percent of mobile commerce transactions, expected to generate US$36.4 billion in revenue by 2020, will come through the use of mobile biometrics. This is incentive enough for everyone to take biometrics seriously; and it is being taken so by many players already. Examples of this include MasterCard, which is testing facial recognition technology to authorize transactions; and ecommerce giant Alibaba, which is exploring the idea of capturing selfies for payment.  Meanwhile, Samsung is also combining fingerprint, voice, and iris-recognition; to make its proprietary payments service - Samsung Pay - safer and more convenient. Apple too has launched fingerprint-authorization for payments made through Apple Pay and purchases made through iTunes.

Biometrics is being looked at quite favorably by industry giants, and is thus expected to become the next-big-thing in payments. However, issues concerning compliance with security and law, behavior, and technology refinement, need to be addressed before its ubiquitous adoption.

While biometric solutions provide numerous benefits, they can also get hazardous when misused. Therefore, it is important to monitor closely, because the consequences accompanying such contraventions could prove catastrophic - not only to the consumer, but to the entire industry. The fundamental concern being that when biometric data gets compromised, it is difficult to fix; and unlike stolen cards, it cannot be changed!

Thus, while staying cognizant of the associated risks, the payments industry should continue working with biometrics technology. Their objective should be to make it more robust and bring to light the best possible solution - both for merchants, as well as consumers - to thwart the nefarious designs of hackers.

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