Biometrics is Only PART of the Answer

The time will come when you will be able to walk into any shop, chose what you want, pay for it where you are standing, and walk out with it, without having to go through the nonsense of lining up. The same will apply to getting through airport security/immigration, into a concert, onto public transportation and so on. Each of these ‘transactions’ will happen in the background.

The time will also come when whom you are is enough to make all of these transactions happen almost seamlessly, and biometrics will be an enormous part of that. However, WHAT you are does not equal WHO you are, and that’s where biometrics vendors miss the point. No form of static authentication (of which biometrics is one, same as passwords) can encompass your entire identity. Your likes, dislikes, hopes, fears, ambitions, friends & family interactions, even your reputation. The things that make you human, and 100% unique.

Also, what biometrics cannot do is replace every other form of authentication in the near term. Certainly not the authentication of payments for example when you consider that all payment card schemes globally are united behind the PIN.

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Shopping Cart Abandonment, Authentication to the Rescue

According to Business Insider, approximately $4 TRILLION worth of merchandise will be abandoned in online shopping carts this year, of which only 63% is recoverable for those retailers with the necessary “savvy”.

The reasons behind this abandonment are as myriad as the individuals making the purchases, but to truly understand the root cause, you must examine the people themselves. From an online purchasing perspective, they fall roughly into these 5 categories:

  1. Mind-Changers – People change their minds all the time, which is much easier when you’re online than when you’re face-to-face with a sales rep. The longer the purchase process, the more time retailers are leaving open for this category to have second thoughts.
  2. Distractors – For those who don’t really care about their purchase, the slightest distraction will cause them move on. Long and complicated check-out processes will see these folks following the next shiny thing.
  3. Impatient – Again, long check-out processes will see the impatient group give up fairly quickly even though it means starting again. The issue is that they will undoubtedly start again on a competitor’s site.
  4. Private – Asking a significant number of questions unrelated to the transaction itself, or forcing them to create an account first is not an option for this category.
  5. Frustrated – Too many steps and customers become frustrated and lose interest in purchasing the item.

Other reasons include hidden fees, unreasonable shipping & handling cost, loss of bandwidth and a multitude of others, but these are mostly issues with the merchant, not with the buyer.

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Biometrics in Payment & Banking – an Uneasy Partnership

No form of single factor authentication has ever provided an optimal level of security. As technology moves forward, biometrics has been introduced into the world of payments to enhance security and convenience. Rightfully so, as a form of authentication, biometrics is here to stay.

Traditionally we talk about three types of authentication:

  1. Something you know (e.g. a password)
  2. Something you have (e.g. an physical token)
  3. Something you are (i.e. biometrics)

But if we want to solve the challenges in a meaningful and sustainable way we must also think about identity management in terms of static and dynamic authenticators as well as multi-multi-factor authentication.

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World Mobile Congress 2015, What WE Want to See

The race for ‘mobile supremacy’ is on. It has been for some time actually – but clearly no-one has it right or we would all be using the same things. In no aspect of the move to mobility is this truer than in payments and other forms of financial transaction.

At the World Mobile Congress 2015 (WMC) next month almost 2,000 exhibitors and an expected attendance of 90,000 will descend on Barcelona in an attempt to find answers to their questions. However, both history and experience have shown that organisations rarely ask the right questions and end up spending time and money following the latest trends so as not to be left behind.

One look and WMC’s very impressive 60-page brochure and the distinguished line of keynotes speaks volumes to the unprecedented interest in everything mobile. With 7 billion mobile phones in the world (2 billion of which are smart phones) this is hardly surprising.

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