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Finnish finance giant pilots fingerprint payments

OP Financial introduces biometric security technology to enable higher-value payments to be made safely using contactless cards

OP Financial Group (OP) is working with Nordic service provider TietoEVRY to test out biometric payment cards that combine contactless and fingerprint verification.

The technology will enable customers to make higher-value payments securely by requiring both the card and the fingerprint in order to make contactless payments.

OP said more than 60% of payment terminal transactions made by its customers using OP cards consist of contactless payments, but the company wants to give added security so that users can make higher-value payments.

“Biometric payment cards provide a secure and easy payment method which also enables contactless payments possible of over €50,” said Teemu Korte, business lead at OP Cards. “We are waiting to pilot this new payment method with our customers at latest during the second half of next year. We hope the user experiences in the pilot will be good, so that we could bring this new alternative to our card portfolio.”

The biometric cards use a fingerprint sensor to identify the user, which means that for high-value payments, the customer need not type in a PIN.

“Virtually all payments can be carried out without physically touching the payment terminal,” said an OP statement. “The fingerprint is easily linked with the card by the consumer at home, and the fingerprint template is only stored on the card.”

TietoEVRY, the result of the merger between Nordic IT firms Tieto and Evry last year, is working with OP on the project. The Nordic IT supplier said there is currently demand for the secure, safe and convenient means of payment that biometric payment cards provide.

Read more about OP Financial

Demand for alternative payment methods have increased during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has accelerated the take-up of contactless payments as people avoid physical contact with other people using devices.

According to Capgemini’s World payments report 2020, 38% of people found a new payment provider during the lockdowns.

Capgemini also reported that global non-cash transactions increased by 14% in volume between 2018 and 2019, with 708.5 billion transactions, the highest growth rate in 10 years. It found that contactless cards were the next most popular payment method after internet banking and direct account transfers, with 64% of people using them often.

There has been a gradual increase in the maximum value that can be transacted on contactless cards, but because there are no checks on the user, banks and other finance firms cannot increase the limit. Fingerprint authentication on card adds security without reducing convenience.

OP has about four million customers in Finland. Its main mobile channel reaches more than a million active users a month and it also has a separate mobile wallet, known as Pivo, which has 1.2 million registered users.

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