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Biometrics payment cards gain the upper hand on the market

Wednesday 25 October 2017 | 08:45 AM CET

Håkan Persson, Precise Biometrics: To support the growth of biometric payment cards, the technology must be cost-efficient while maintaining high biometric performance

Contactless payments have been predicted as the next emerging market for fingerprint technology. What backs up this idea?

The combination of contactless payment cards and fingerprint technology increases both security and convenience for payments. There is a great interest from customers and the industry to start using biometric payment cards. It brings a new level of convenience to consumers, while providing higher security by replacing pin codes, thus minimizing the risk of identity theft and fraud.

There is also a significant potential in this market. The annual addressable market is more than two billion payment cards, and the use of contactless payments have already gained high penetration in several geographical markets.

Fingerprint technology has become a standard for convenient and secure authentication in mid-range and high-end smartphones, and by 2019, all smartphones are expected to be equipped with biometric solutions, according to a research conducted by the market analyst Acuity.

How do you see the development of biometrics in mobile payments?

This is the largest growth area for biometrics. By 2020, almost six out of ten financial transactions are expected to be performed via biometric authentication, primarily via fingerprint sensors in mobile devices. By this time, financial products and services will account for one third of the total market for biometric solutions, according to the Biometrics Research Group. This includes various payment card solutions, mobile payment services such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and MiPay, as well as wearables and other smart devices with payment solutions.

The increased use of smart units for commerce and other sensitive purposes accelerates payment related fraud. Fingerprint technology can increase the security of mobile payments by replacing pin-codes, and over time, we will see biometric solutions that combine different biometric modalities, such as fingerprint and face, to add a new layer of security.

In the run-up to Money 20/20 in Las Vegas, you announced the launch of a more powerful version of your fingerprint software for smart cards that will lower production costs and support the growth of biometric payment cards. Could you develop that?

To support the growth of biometric payment cards, the technology must be cost-efficient while maintaining high biometric performance. Payment card providers do not want to increase production costs of payment cards. To make biometric payment cards truly grow, fingerprint sensors need to become smaller and the processors on the cards needs to become more efficient, thus lowering the total production costs of the cards.

The enhanced version of our fingerprint software, Precise BioMatch™ Embedded, is both powerful and lean enough to support fingerprint sensors of an area down to 30 mm2 and low-power MCU’s that enable power-efficient biometric smart cards, while meeting the biometric performance requirements set by the payment card industry. This software has the potential to accelerate the introduction of biometric smart cards.

You recently announced that your fingerprint software Precise BioMatch Embedded powered the use of a contactless payment cards by the travel payment company AirPlus International. Can you tell us more about what you are doing in this market?

We are currently involved in several biometric smart card projects together with industry leaders in the field of payment cards. The contactless card from AirPlus International is the first successful use of a contactless payment card, and more is to come. Precise BioMatch Embedded is the only fingerprint software on the market that can run a fingerprint matching solution inside an Embedded Secure Element, eSE, a separate processor chip for sensitive applications and data storage with very limited processing speed and memory. By utilizing secure elements in payment cards or other smart units, the security of the solution is further improved.

How do you see the biometrics market developing?

With the introduction of mobile biometrics, the market has truly boomed. We are now seeing some changes in the market dynamics for the mobile biometrics that will further stimulate market growth. There are more sensor vendors (some of them are also our partners) entering the market and offering competitive solutions on the same level as the current market leaders. This lowers the cost for fingerprint technology, enabling the technology to find its way into low-end devices as well.

Furthermore, new sensor technologies such as ultrasound and optical sensors, are on the rise. Ultrasound and optical sensor technologies make possible the integration of fingerprint sensors in and under the smartphones’ display, creating new design possibilities with edge-to-edge display, at the same time, lowering total production cost of devices with fingerprint technology. In addition to fingerprint technology, face and iris recognition pave the way for multi-modal biometric solutions.

Looking forward, beside biometric payment cards, the use of fingerprint authentication is growing in the Internet of Things and smart personal devices such as wearables, cars, locks, smart cards and other embedded products. These areas have the potential to become just as large as the market for mobile biometrics. We are involved in several interesting projects that we expect will hit the market next year.

As biometric technologies evolve and become increasingly used in sensitive cases, the continuous enhancement of biometric authentication security will become an important area. We are developing anti-spoofing technologies that make the use of fingerprint authentication more robust. But there are great opportunities to further develop the security of biometric authentication using multi-modal biometrics and implementing identity proofing at enrollment of biometric templates to tie the individual to the device or the application or to both.

About Håkan Persson

Håkan is an experienced leader of fast growing companies in the Information and Communications Industry. He has successfully driven international expansion and organizational re-structuring projects in numerous organizations since graduating with a Bachelor in business administration from Lund University, Sweden, in 1985.He has held positions as CEO, Vice President, Sales Director and Business Development Executive at international companies such as IBM, Telia, Scalado, Teleca, Aspiro and Telelogic. Håkan has held his current position as CEO of Precise Biometrics since November 2013.

About Precise Biometrics

Precise Biometrics is a market leading supplier of solutions for convenient and secure authentication of people’s identity in mobile devices, smart cards and other products with fingerprint sensors. The company’s patented software provides the best user experience for products with small fingerprint sensors and limited processing power and memory, regardless of the sensor technology or operating system. Precise Biometrics solutions are used hundreds of millions of times every day globally.

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