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Mastercard sets biometric ID deadline for banks

Mastercard has committed to guaranteeing that every one of its customers will have access to biometric authentication services by April 2019

Mastercard has set a deadline of April 2019 for widespread use of biometric identification for users of its service.

The payments company said all of its customers would be able to use biometrics, including fingerprint and facial recognition, by next April.

Banks that accept Mastercard payments will have to support these identification mechanisms, in addition to PINs and passwords, to allow customers to make payments remotely.

Mastercard’s deadline comes as consumers have greater access to biometric ID services through smartphones and tablets, and the EU introduced regulations for stronger authentication as part of the second version of the Payment Services Directive (PSD2).

Citing research it carried out with Oxford University, Mastercard said 92% of banking professionals wanted to introduce biometric ID and 93% of consumers would prefer biometric security to passwords.

Biometric authentication is used in conjunction with a mobile device. This is a technological advance from a password a customer knows combined with a card or device they have, to a mobile device they have combined with what they are (biometrics).

“Biometric technologies perfectly meet the public’s expectation for state-of-the-art security when making a payment,” said Mark Barnett, president at Mastercard UK. “This will be of great benefit to everyone: consumers, retailers and banks. It will make the purchase much smoother, and instead of having to remember passwords to authenticate, shoppers will have the chance to use a fingerprint or a picture of themselves.”

Read more about biometric authentication

One of the advantages identified by Mastercard is that biometric authentication makes it easier for the consumer, and therefore less likely that they will abandon an online or mobile purchase before completion.

Changing customer behaviour has forced payment services companies to invest in the latest digital technologies.

Mastercard, for example, has been investing in biometric security technology since 2014, when it announced that, alongside Zwipe, it was developing a payment card with a built-in fingerprint authentication sensor. A year later it announced a biometric authentication and verification pilot, as part of a $20m increase in spending on improving its cyber security technology.

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