To use the biometric payment and loyalty scheme, Stop ‘n Save customers register by scanning their fingerprints and providing a cancelled cheque. They can then pay for purchases by scanning their fingers and entering a 10-digit PIN number (I think this is generally their phone number) to verify their identities. A case study of PayByTouch deployment at a grocery store named Green Hills seems very positive. Nine months after the introduction of the technology, 25% of Green Hills’ sales are made via biometric payments, and 28% of those are processed over the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network (ie, swerving round payment card networks). Now, I’m up front about being a smart card and mobile phone fan, but if people like using biometrics and they are fast enough at POS, then I can see why they will gain ground.
As we have discussed before at Digital Identity, however, I think the main mass market thrust for biometrics will be about convenience, not security, as in the case of the biometric ATMs that Citibank has launched in India for micro-finance customers. The ATMs authorise transactions by scanning customers’ thumbprints instead of a PIN code. Citibank plans to establish a network of 25 to 35 such ATMs within a year, specifically targeted at its Citibank `Pragati’ savings account holders. Citibank `Pragati’ is a no-frills savings account with nil minimum balance and is offered directly or through a micro-finance institution (MFI). I’m not sure why using a thumbprint is quicker or easier than using a PIN, but perhaps in a largely illiterate target group it could make a big difference.
My opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public. [posted with ecto]