With a simple touch of your finger you should soon be able to authenticate payment for your in-store or online purchases. This streamlined method of making a purchase is based on contactless technology combined with biometrics.

Payments at Your Fingertips, Thanks to Biometrics and Contactless Technology

Settling up for your goods without getting out your bank card, manipulating your phone or handling any other device, just by using the tip of your finger…this is the essence of a system developed by France-based company Natural Security in partnership with four French banks – BNP Paribas, Banque Accord, Crédit Agricole and Crédit Mutuel Arkéa – plus Auchan, Ingenico, Leroy Merlin and MasterCard and the CB bank card group. Two user-authentication methods will be trialling in participating stores in France for six months from October 2012 to March 2013, both combining mid-range contactless technology with biometrics – based on finger vein patterns at Villeneuve d’Ascq and digital fingerprint technology at Angoulême. “Using the two different technologies in parallel will help us assess how they perform and enable us to validate the technical aspects. We’ll also be able to gather information on customer perception,” Natural Security Marketing Director André Delaforge told L’Atelier.

Streamlining the checkout process

The system has already been tested on a panel of 1,500 people. The system works with a secure contactless device which stores a user’s biometric data plus the data needed to make card payments and access services. The user first needs to go into his/her bank branch to register the biometric data – just by placing two fingers on a terminal. The data is then transmitted to a device – for the purposes of the payments trial it will be transmitted to a bank card. Each person taking part in the trial will be given a special little case fitted with contactless technology in which to place his/her bank card. The technology enables information exchange with a payments terminal provided you stay within 1.5 metres of the terminal. The checkout process follows the standard procedure we know today, except that now the user can choose to make a biometric payment. All s/he has to do to complete the purchase is to slide a finger into the little card case. There’s no need to pull the bank card out of your pocket or handbag, which obviously saves time. “The system streamlines the checkout process. This responds to customer demands to improve ease of purchase - especially to cut down on the waiting time at the checkout,” explained Alexis Baude, Auchan’s Director of Innovation.

Multi-use potential

The secure personal device can also take other forms, such as a chip card, a key ring, or a mobile phone. Its uses can also extend beyond payments in retail stores to purchasing on the Internet and withdrawing cash at ATMs. The technology could also be used on a wider scale for remote authentication such as securing access to a workstation or the Internet, user-ID and password management, and digital signatures. “This trial will lay the foundations of a universal system offering the same level of security but with streamlined authentication, whatever the type of transaction, or wherever it’s being made,” underlined André Delaforge.

By Claire Cavret
Social Media Manager