PayPal study on biometrics for mobile payments

A new mobile payments study from PayPal and the the US National Cyber Security Alliance finds that a majority of Americans are comfortable with the idea of using their biometric information instead of passwords and PIN numbers that are widely used today to protect phones and financial data and make mobile payments.

The survey found that 53 percent of those surveyed are “comfortable” with using fingerprints, 45 percent would opt for a retinal scan, and 41 percent are comfortable with photo identification. The survey responses to the survey also highlights just how reliant we are on our smartphones, two-thirds of those polled said that they keep their smartphones no farther than one room away and 10 percent said they have their smartphones in hand at all times when not showering or sleeping. The survey also showed just how much smartphones are used for every day life with just under 25% of respondents saying they have completed at least one mobile payments on their phone each day.

Mobile Payments

What also emerged was a “confused” approach to data security. Whilst 20% of respondents have installed payment apps on their phones, 63% said they don’t know what kind of financial information they store on their phones. And 70% felt that storing payment information on smartphones isn’t secure. But the most interesting statistic is that over half of those surveyed said that they do not currently take the most basic of security measure of setting up a PIN to protect their smartphone data.

It is as if consumers are telling the payments industry that data security is the responsibility of the industry. Consumers will accept the risk and responsibility of protecting the physical device but when it comes to risks in storing or using data on the phone, they expect the industry to have cracked the problem before mass adoption occurs. Consumers are saying “you come up with something that works and we will use it”.

Industry Developments

So what is the industry doing? Last week Visa, MasterCard, and American Express proposed a framework for a new global standard to enhance the security of online and mobile payments by replacing the traditional account number with a digital payment token. Consumers would no longer be required to enter an actual account number when shopping online or on a smart device.  Tokenisation is not new and many niche payment companies already deploy such mobile payments technology but if the mass market is to transition from plastic cards to mobile payments, it will take a collaboration between the main card schemes to develop and promote an industry standard which consumers will adopt with trust and confidence.  Then we can start using retina scans, chips embedded under our skin, neural recognition for payments………….




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