Finger on the pulse! 2019’s big biometric news so far…

By Lina Andolf-Orup, Senior Director, Fingerprints.

It’s already Q2! It has been a momentous few months for biometrics, so it’s not surprising the year is passing so quickly. New products launched, new milestones reached, and new market trials initiated. Biometrics is expanding and advancing rapidly – both in its existing markets and applications, and in new ones.

Not sure what you’ve missed? Here’s my run-down of the big biometrics news stories that have started the year.

Biometric payment cards ‘go large’

Last year saw biometric payment cards go from talk to trial. Partnerships with banks, vendors and payments schemes gained traction worldwide and have continued to do so into 2019.

In March, we saw the UK’s first biometric payment card trial announced from Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest. Unsurprisingly, given the nation’s love of contactless, scrapping the £30 payment cap was central to the trial of what NatWest called, “the biggest development in card technology in recent years”.

Earlier in the year, we also saw the world’s first volume order of fingerprint sensors for dual-interface payment cards placed by global digital security leader, Gemalto. The announced partnership and order represent a major milestone for the technology’s path to market, and the countdown is on as to when we’ll see the first commercial biometric card in the hands of consumers…

With European banks facing PSD2’s secure customer authentication requirements, biometrics is taking centre stage as a simple solution that doesn’t compromise UX across mobile payments, banking applications and, of course, on card.

Not just for payments…

While the first volume deployment of biometric cards will be in payments, the applications of the technology are much more diverse.

Just last month, our partner FEITAN announced its new ‘all-in-one’ card that can be used for identification, physical access control, and authentication to access data and applications. This is a secure, convenient and cost-effective solution for enterprise business and payments markets.

An interesting use of our technology, and just one possibility of this exciting new form factor!

Ready to rock and enroll!

Defining the process of registering fingerprints onto cards is a crucial element in getting biometric smartcards to consumers. In fact, 83% of issuing banks we interviewed cited enrollment as the most important thing to get right.

With this in mind, we set out with UX design specialists BlockZero to define a straightforward and secure solution that we launched earlier this year. Our ‘out of the box’ enrollment provides an easy, secure (and dare I say ‘fun’!) way to register your biometric data! See what we mean on our YouTube channel.

Another important announcement was the launch of our new software platform for payments. The complete software solution has been designed in harmony with our hardware to deliver enhanced biometric performance for payments and can be used across a range of form factors: from payment cards and wearables to USB dongles.

Biometrics and bendy phones in Barcelona

Of course, MWC Barcelona, the biggest mobile event in the world, was a key highlight of the first quarter. From ID authentication to wearable payments, biometrics was a major talking point. Even the delegate passes were biometrics-secured for a smooth and quick entrance!

5G was a focus point, showcased through synchronized live concerts and remote surgeries. 5G will also enable the future of connected homes, automotive and smart cities. For many of these use cases biometrics will play a vital role as the most convenient way to secure identification and verification.

We also (finally!) saw some real innovation to the smartphone – and the biometrics that secure it! Alongside the mind-bending foldable phone, we also saw our optical in-display (or ‘under glass’) fingerprint sensor make its debut. This is one smartphone innovation we really expect to take off: offering more design freedom and the ability to ‘touch’ and authenticate on a broader area.

Consumers are the key to everything

In the same way that biometrics has transformed the mobile space, it’s rapidly taking hold of the payments world and beyond. In an age of increasingly connected, more seamless solutions across industries, security and the consumer experience sit at the heart of everything.

Biometrics offers the perfect balance of trust with convenience that will be key to keeping up in this new age and will see the technology continue to thrive in smartphones, but also in applications far beyond.

It’d be naïve to look too far ahead, but we can be sure that if the rest of the year continues with the same pace as the first quarter, the biometrics industry will certainly be kept busy!

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Categories: Biometrics

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