Contactless but so reckless
Changing the habits of the French as a nation is never plain sailing. As soon as means of payment come into question, the rate of take-up slows right down. Contactless payment technologies are already a decade old; nevertheless, they really only began to take off three years ago. Over a billion transactions were recorded last year, yet growth rates remain as rapid as ever. The same goes for mobile payments. Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Alipay and others are entering our lives with quiet confidence. Their primary aim is to make our shopping habits more convenient and more flexible. Nevertheless, as with any innovation, security questions do arise.
Can we trust technology?
When interviewed by LCI, Olivier Gabrielli, Head of Innovation and Digital Payments at MasterCard, took a reassuring view: “We used to have a card in our wallet to make a direct payment. Now, we have a card that has been registered with many merchants or saved to many different devices and objects. To enhance that security, it would be better to create a series of specific cards. Indeed, when you save your bank card to your smartphone, we actually create a new set of card details.”
Do contactless payments encourage fraud risks?
Whether they make payment using contactless technologies or using their smartphones, customers’ main fears involve losing possession of their means of payment. Today, the technology is linked to mobile payments. As soon as the card or smartphone are reported stolen, the virtual link with the payment card is automatically broken, which will prevent any attempt to make payment remotely. One way to improve the customer experience is to make the payment process simpler. In the future, we will probably all be comfortable with making payment without physically going through a checkout, and without even taking out our wallets: provided the risk is negligible.
What role can biometrics play in securing payments?
Some smartphones already feature face recognition or fingerprint sensors to unlock the screen. But could we soon be paying with our voices? “No,” said Oliver Gabrielli without a moment’s hesitation. “We’ll never pay with our voices, irises, or fingerprints – the card will always be used. On the other hand, biometric solutions will be used for authentication purposes – something, by the way, that we are strongly encouraging banks to implement from 2019 onwards, because we firmly believe them to be more secure than a password or a code sent via SMS,” he added.
What innovations can we expect next?
Research continues to advance and promises greater transactional security in the physical and digital worlds alike. Studies are underway, examining behavioral biometrics to analyze the way we use the keyboard, or the angle at which we hold our smartphones. Adding this information would provide greater certainty as to whether the person using your smartphone to pay is in fact you! Cash payments have virtually disappeared in many countries of the world (including Africa, China, and Japan) even though the French remain to be convinced that hiding their birthday money in their socks is not, in fact, the way of the future…