The French bank Société Générale made headlines last October when it rolled out new payment cards with biometric fingerprint authentication. The pilot program demonstrated the country’s ongoing commitment to financial innovation and smart card technology, a trend that dates back to the first chip-based cards in 1988.
Fingerprint Cards is similarly positioning itself at the forefront of the payment industry. The biometrics company provided the fingerprint scanner for Société Générale’s new cards, and is now charting the way forward in a blog post ahead of this week’s Paris Fintech Forum. Though France has long been an early adopter of new payment cards, there is still some cultural resistance around contactless, tap-based transactions. French banks and consumers have been reluctant to lift the spending cap, citing concerns about skimmers and the easy misuse of stolen cards.
Fingerprints argues that biometric authentication offers a solution to that problem. By linking a payment card to its owner, fingerprint scanners can boost consumer confidence and security with minimal disruption to the current network.
“Adding strong customer authentication with biometrics puts trust into contactless while also giving banks the confidence to finally say ‘au revoir’ to the payment cap,” writes Lina Andolf-Orup. “As the biometric payment card is powered via the payment terminal just as contactless cards are, there’s no need for retailers to upgrade existing terminal infrastructure.”
The move to biometric authentication would also eliminate the need for PIN codes. Both Fingerprint and Société Générale seem to be expecting France to be one of the first countries to make that transition.
January 29, 2019 – by Eric Weiss