March 20, 2023
In-store, online & in-app – unifying payment authentication
By Michel Roig
By Michel Roig
Often, new technologies are lauded as the death of existing ones. This has been undoubtedly true in some areas. Think audio cassettes and CDs, Betamax and VHS, fax machines and email… and a host of other examples. Sometimes the market and product vendors can influence this decision but, mostly, consumers decide which technologies win based on the value they bring to their everyday lives.
Often though, new technologies coexist with, and complement, existing ones. This is very much the case in the payments ecosystem. The advent of mobile payments had many claiming the death of the humble payment card. In a world still using cheques and with significant innovation happening across both mobile and card payments, the card is not going anywhere for the foreseeable future because consumers choose different payment methods based on different situations and preferences.
But, as new payment methods are made available to consumers, and each keeps evolving, the payments ecosystem needs to ensure that the security, convenience and user experience is consistent. This blog will trace the adoption of card and mobile payments, discuss the need for strong authentication and highlight the role biometrics is playing in enabling unified experiences for consumers.
Card & mobile payment adoption
There is still a mix of how consumers make in-store payments today. For example, Fingerprints research found that more than 70% of consumers elect to use their cards most often, compared to less than 5% choosing their smartphones.
But mobile contactless is growing. Mobile payment experience enabling the same (or better!) convenience of traditional card payments, with additional security and more opportunities for richer experienced and value added services like loyalty and discount integration. Because of this, for example, last year the U.S. saw in-store grow by 29%.
Additionally, we can consider in-app and online mobile payments. Allied Market Research reports the global in-app purchasing market size was valued at $76.43 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach $340.76 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 19.8% from 2020 to 2027.
Safety first, right?
It’s clear that contactless transactions are growing, but safety is still a concern for a lot of consumers, particularly with cards.
Consumers around the world have come to love the convenience of contactless. While 77% of consumers use contactless regularly, half are worried about the lack of security if their card is lost or stolen and around a quarter are confused about spending limits.
And even as contactless use was rocketing, fraud was a cause for concern. According to UK Finance’s latest Annual Fraud Report, lost and stolen card fraud incidents increased by 1% between 2020-21, despite this being a time when normal high-street shopping habits were drastically altered due to pandemic restrictions. Worryingly, the same report highlighted that when pandemic restrictions were eased in late 2021, contactless fraud on payment cards and devices went up 20%.
Historically, the authentication methods for card, mobile and online payments have been diverse and inconsistent. Biometrics is helping to unify, strengthen and simplify the payment authentication process, no matter where or how consumers choose to pay.
Biometrics bringing benefits
One innovation helping consumers – that increasingly demand more convenient, secure and hygienic payment experiences – is the addition of biometrics to strengthen and unify authentication.
After over a decade of integrations, mobile is the most mature and established market for consumer biometrics, and we now estimate that more than 80% of smartphones sold now incorporate some form of biometric sensor.
Recently Fingerprints celebrated that its own sensors have been integrated in more than 650 mobile device models globally, in nine out of the top ten smartphone OEM brands. But this is by no means a static market.
Crucially, continued adoption is being driven by innovation. Ongoing R&D on the biometric sensors and software are enabling biometrics to support broader product development and innovative use cases. This is supporting ongoing mobile adoption and diversification into other devices like payment cards.
Ongoing momentum is down to biometrics’ fundamental benefits; the technology’s ability to strengthen security and authentication while maintaining or even improving the user experience by removing the need to enter PINs and passwords.
Unifying the authentication UX
On top of these core benefits, biometrics can also help banks and card manufacturers to harmonize the payment authentication experience. Consumers are already used to unlocking their smartphone with a fingerprint sensor. With mobile payments and banking apps on the rise, biometric authentication is now increasingly common in consumer finance. By offering biometric technology in payments cards, banks can offer their customers the same convenience and security they are used to from their mobile and in-app transactions.
Not all consumers pay for items in the same way, so the important factor is to offer trusted options that help a wide range of users. The addition of more secure authentication to cards is therefore a logical development in order to cater to the requirements of the less tech-savvy individuals all the way through to the digital natives.
Evolution not revolution
So, it is not a question of new payment technologies replacing existing ones. Technology evolves, yes. But cards are not static and, for many, will continue to be the default method of payment. For others card, mobile contactless, online, in-app and others all have a time and a place.
Moving forward, banks and other issuers can support customers by adding strong authentication to the ‘tap’ of contactless to bring it in line with mobile and in-app payments. Alongside added protection reducing fraud risks and lost revenue, it provides the convenience of avoiding contactless limits – and the confusion they can bring – altogether.
With the clear need for security that does not compromise convenience, the desire among consumers for the technology, and the readiness of the technology for mass rollout, the coming years look exciting for biometrics and its role in smarter payment experiences.
Learn more about the key trends driving biometric card adoption here.