Pay by Touch: Consumers Blow a Big Raspberry to Biometric Payments

Back in 2006 the MidCounties Cooperative made the news when it introduced “Pay by Touch” – a system to allow shoppers to pay for their purchases at the checkout using a pre-registered fingerprint biometric. The scheme was hailed as a success in the UK, but that opinion hasn’t applied across the board – Pay By Touch has just shut up shop. In my opinion this was a case of a solution looking for a problem, and until we see a broader switch from existing plastic cards to new tokens (possibly mobile phones?) we won’t get widespread acceptance of biometrics for payment purposes.

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This was a solution performing a real business need of delivering safe and secure fund transfer over and above the standard of Chip and Pin. CnP is still an insecure Method of Payment, with the banks supporting a built in percentage of fraudulent usage of around 12%. Not safe, but safer that the prevous contingency. PbT offered a much more secure method, with no fraudulent use built in (correct me anyone..?), and this also brought in many additional benefits such as automatic age verification, promotion benefits and the huge bon of offering willilng customers a faster route of settlement. To say that this is a solution looking for a problem is sadly misguided. its more of a solution to a known problem, we are all willing to accept or ignore.
Anon - I have to disagree with you on that last point. You very rightly point out the issue of fraud rates, which is the key factor from a commercial perspective. If fraud levels were sufficiently high then all card merchants would be demanding that we switch to PbT or some similar two or three factor approach. But whilst fraud is tolerable, there is no commercial incentive for them to do so.