Thursday 14 March 2019 10:05 am

DEBATE: As RBS trials a fingerprint bank card, is biometric technology the future for digital payments?

Ann Cairns is Executive Vice Chair of Mastercard and Global Chair of the 30 Per Cent Club
and Baydr Yadallee

As RBS trials a fingerprint bank card, is biometric technology the future for digital payments?

YES, says Ann Cairns, vice chairman of Mastercard.

As we shift towards using digital services, and the need to protect our data becomes ever more critical, the use of passwords is woefully outdated.

Many people simply have more passwords than they can remember and forget them, or worse use the same one for all their accounts. In payments technology, we are moving from cash to card, and password to biometrics. It’s far easier to authenticate yourself with a thumbprint or a selfie, and it’s safer.

New payments regulation will speed the adoption of biometrics. We will all need to authenticate ourselves more frequently when buying online, and passwords just won’t be good enough.

We estimate that one in four online purchases will need a one-time password or code, or some form of biometric authentication. This is a huge jump from the one in 100 of online payments that need further checks today. Given the choice, for many consumers the simplicity, speed, and convenience of biometrics means that it will not be a hard decision to make.

NO, says Baydr Yadallee, business director of Tribal Worldwide London.

High street lenders are making strides to humanise the way they interact with customers — especially the elderly and those in left-behind rural communities.

Pushing more new technology on people who are coming to terms with bank closures and the decline of cash is a surefire way to further marginalise an already-marginalised customer base.

There’s an “adapt-or-die” mindset that insists all technology is progress, and should be incorporated immediately, regardless of readiness.

Moving to biometrics requires a huge shift in behavioural change , which not everyone is ready for yet. A business needs to be able to cater for as many people as possible to create a pervasive “total experience” that complements every interaction a customer has with that brand.

There is no doubt that this tech will improve security. But its implementation should be a marathon, not a sprint.

Banks are in danger of sleepwalking into the future, while their customers are still here in the present.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.