Gi­hane Mourad of Ge­malto says that bio­met­ric au­then­ti­ca­tion for pay­ments are noth­ing to fear

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Gi­hane Mourad says that bio­met­ric au­then­ti­ca­tion for pay­ments are noth­ing to fear

When we con­sider our ev­ery­day use of fa­cial recog­ni­tion and fin­ger­print scan­ning, we’d be for­given for think­ing about a dis­tant fu­ture con­tain­ing fly­ing cars and ro­bots. While the realm of fly­ing ve­hi­cles may still be some time away, the re­al­ity is that bio­met­ric tech­nol­ogy is here now, and we are al­ready very ac­cus­tomed to us­ing it.

Over the last 20 years, we’ve been scan­ning our prints and faces at bor­der con­trol, us­ing our fin­ger­print to gain ac­cess to build­ings at work and been tak­ing ad­van­tage of Ap­ple’s Touch ID and Face ID fea­tures. Last month, Dubai In­ter­na­tional Air­port un­veiled a sta­teof-the-art fa­cial recog­ni­tion sys­tem. The Smart Tun­nel can iden­tify trav­el­ers by analysing pic­tures of their face as they walk through. This will mean pas­sen­gers can get through air­port con­trol in 15 sec­onds, with­out the need for any travel doc­u­ments such as pass­ports, IDs or board­ing cards. Bio­met­ric tech­nol­ogy

is evolv­ing and be­com­ing more widely used. It’s been em­bed­ded into our lives whether we’ve re­alised it or not.

The ro­bust al­ter­na­tive to your PIN

Now, it’s be­ing in­tro­duced to the bank­ing and pay­ments sphere through the de­vel­op­ment of bio­met­ric EMV cards. These cards re­move the need for a tra­di­tional PIN num­ber as we see it re­placed with an em­bed­ded fin­ger­print scan­ner. In or­der to pay for goods, cus­tomers sim­ply place their fin­ger­print on the sen­sor on the card’s sur­face. Then, if the fin­ger­print stored in the card matches the user try­ing to make a pay­ment, the trans­ac­tion is autho­rised. If, for any rea­son, the fin­ger­print does not reg­is­ter, the PIN code is avail­able as a back-up op­tion.

While this has ob­vi­ous ben­e­fits from a con­ve­nience point of view, re­mov­ing the need to re­mem­ber PIN codes or lim­its on con­tact­less trans­ac­tions for ex­am­ple, it has nat­u­rally in­tro­duced fresh se­cu­rity con­cerns. Much like when on­line bank­ing and credit cards were in­tro­duced, we as a so­ci­ety are hes­i­tant to trust changes to the way we han­dle money. But these cards are the fu­ture, rev­o­lu­tion­is­ing the way we pay by mak­ing our trans­ac­tions much safer and more con­ve­nient.

Last month Abu Dhabi Po­lice is­sued a warn­ing to res­i­dents re­gard­ing fraud­sters who are steal­ing credit card de­tails through RFID card reader ma­chines. In the last year, thou­sands of UAE res­i­dents fell vic­tim to credit-card fraud both lo­cally and abroad. The Cen­tral Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) has re­minded con­sumers of their re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­tect their per­sonal de­tails and credit and debit cards from fraud and unau­tho­rised use.

In an en­vi­ron­ment where cy­ber breaches of credit cards and per­sonal data can hap­pen, such as last year’s Careem at­tack, it’s nat­u­ral to be con­cerned about changes to our per­sonal data. How­ever, the fin­ger­print on bio­met­ric EMV cards is not stored on a cen­tral data­base and is there­fore not sus­cep­ti­ble to data breaches

Ul­ti­mately, bio­met­ric EMV cards are the fu­ture of con­sumer pay­ments, pro­vid­ing easy, con­ve­nient, re­li­able and se­cure pay­ment trans­ac­tions.”

where PIN and pass­words can be re­trieved. Cus­tomers’ fin­ger­print data is only stored on the card itself and so can­not be ac­cessed by hack­ing into servers.

Dis­pelling the myths

From the out­set, bio­met­ric EMV cards have se­cu­rity built into the de­sign. This is the eas­i­est way to en­sure that these bank­ing cards will be able to pro­tect con­sumers against the bank­ing and cy­ber threats of the 21st cen­tury.

The most com­mon myth is that the fin­ger­print reader is no more se­cure than the PIN be­cause it can be eas­ily du­pli­cated. But this is en­tirely false. The ad­vanced so­lu­tion within the card can­not be fooled by a 2D of your print. More­over, the tech­nol­ogy which is used to build the scan­ner will only evolve and strengthen over time. As the tech­nol­ogy im­proves, so will the read­ings of the fin­ger­prints, en­abling a clearer, more de­tailed cap­ture that could even in­clude the in­di­vid­ual’s pores on the skin’s sur­face, mak­ing the so­lu­tion re­sis­tant to at­tacks in­clud­ing very so­phis­ti­cated ones. The card can also be can­celled re­motely by a bank, just like a nor­mal debit or credit card.

Fears that a hacker could still gain ac­cess and com­pro­mise the data in­side the chip de­spite there be­ing no data­base are also mis­placed. The chip’s high-level en­cryp­tion en­sures that the card can with­stand ro­bust at­tempts to ac­cess its data. While any con­cerns that a change in fin­ger­print or if the print is dirty or wet could pre­vent the card from work­ing would also be mis­taken. The card’s reader is de­signed not to be af­fected by changes to your print. More­over, if for any rea­son the print is not ac­cepted at the point of sale, the card ac­cepts a PIN code as a sec­ondary form of ID ver­i­fi­ca­tion.

In the near fu­ture a ma­jor­ity of UAE banks plan to of­fer more bio­met­ric so­lu­tions to their cus­tomers. Within the next years more 88% plan to have fin­ger­print scan­ning. Con­sumers are also in­creas­ingly aware of the strengths of bio­met­rics, with 75% of banks con­sumers in UAE think that they are more se­cure and 49% find it more con­ve­nient than tra­di­tional meth­ods.

In light of these chang­ing con­sumer per­cep­tions, areeba – a fintech com­pany that pro­vides pay­ment so­lu­tions for banks, govern­ments and mer­chants – in­tro­duced Ge­malto’s con­tact­less bio­met­ric pay­ment card to the Mid­dle East re­gion for the first time this year. The bio­met­ric card al­lows card­hold­ers to au­tho­rize trans­ac­tions by us­ing its built-in fin­ger­print scan­ner rather than en­ter­ing a PIN, pro­vid­ing card­hold­ers a faster, eas­ier and more se­cure pay­ment process.

Ul­ti­mately, bio­met­ric EMV cards are the fu­ture of con­sumer pay­ments, pro­vid­ing easy, con­ve­nient, re­li­able and se­cure pay­ment trans­ac­tions. The tech­nol­ogy be­hind the EMV card is not static, it’s only go­ing to evolve to be­come stronger and more se­cure. When you con­sider what con­sumers want – se­cu­rity, con­ve­nience, some­thing that sim­pli­fies your life – the bio­met­ric EMV card ticks all the boxes.

Gi­hane Mourad, sales director, Ge­malto.

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