In a world devoid of cash or credit cards, a finger will be all that’s required to purchase a meal, thanks to the widespread use of biometrics.
“Obviously, this requires very strong biometric matches and appropriate infrastructure, such as a centralized database and scanners in each POS,” says Ronny Yacobi, of Bio-Metrica, a provider of biometrics solutions for government and industry. “This is the ultimate way to pay and, if you ask me, this is the future.”
Tim Attinger, head of product innovation and development at Visa Inc., predicts the future of payment solutions will be more about combining speed, convenience, flexibility, and operational efficiency with the capability of a retailer to push marketing messages.
“Mobile devices will be a critical componen of incentivizing customers by texting them a coupon and then getting them to use the device to order remotely and pay all at the same time,” Attinger says.
“When they arrive at the restaurant, their order will already be paid for and packaged. In the future, there will be a way for already time-stressed customers to jump the line to pick up that order.”
Already, the technology exists that allows mobile devices to communicate with “smart ads.” The ads have the ability to share promotions and other information with the devices. For example, an ad for Burger Chain X might beam directions to the nearest location directly to the GPS system inside a phone. This will become ubiquitous in the future.
“Mobile payment has a bright future as the way to pay,” says Dom Morea, senior vice president of First Data Mobile Commerce Solutions. “It will be the next evolution of cards and payments.”
As technology becomes more advanced, however, so will the criminals seeking to exploit it. “In the future, we will need a higher level of security to make sure that the person trying to pay the bill is actually the holder of the account,” says John Wilkerson, of Retail Data Systems, a provider of POS technologies.
According to the AppleInsider Web site, Apple computer is currently developing a stealth biometric security technique that hides a biometric reader inside an iPhone. The iPhone sensor will recognize a fingerprint or finger vein pattern when the user touches the screen or a forward-facing camera will scan retinal patterns and/or facial features.
AppleInsider goes so far as to suggest the possibility of the iPhone recognizing a user’s distinct voice or collecting DNA samples to recognize a user’s genetic sequence. This would make a mobile device the most secure form of payment possible by letting owners lock down their systems to prevent unauthorized use.
DNA-based validation is the ultimate system of control but is a long way from being practical or cost efficient, Wilkerson says. However, 3D facial recognition is a form of biometrics that has a logical shot of being viable in the reasonable future. It is also fast enough for the retail environment. The technology is difficult for a potential identity thief to circumvent and is already in use at some airports and customs offices.
“Since it is 3D, holding a picture of the card holder won’t work,” Wilkerson says.
In case someone is able to steal the cardholder’s electronic image from a database, Wilkerson envisions an RFID-type device that has a constantly changing password. The device could be kept in the customers’ pocket so, upon facial recognition, a sensor at the POS would read the key’s password to secure the transaction.
With all that work, wouldn’t cash just be easier? It would, if it’s still around in 2030.
“With cashless payment in quick-service up from 5 percent a few years ago to the 30 percent range, it will become a bigger nuisance to carry cash than it will be worth, and retailers will find it easier to deal with credit-based transactions,” Wilkerson says. “There won’t be any cash in the year 2030.” — By Paul Gereffi