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Biometric payments on the rise: Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Azbuka Vkusa

Today Apple Pay, a mobile payment and digital wallet service by Apple Inc., has been launched in Russia. The main partners of the service are Sberbank Russia and VTB24. And only a week ago Sberbank, the largest bank in Russia, and Azbuka Vkusa, a supermarket chain, announced the launch of a pilot project that lets customers use fingerprints to pay for products. These two events are connected: according to Bankir.ru, Sberbank wanted to start their own biometrical project first and only after this, the launches of Samsung Pay and Apple Pay were approved.


Samsung Pay and Apple Pay look very much the same: before making a payment you need to unlock your device and hold it up to a wireless payment terminal near the cash register. To complete purchases you enter a pin code or a fingerprint. Additionally Samsung Pay offers the option to use iris scanning for owners of the Galaxy Note 7. The South Korean manufacturer is planning to add devices piecemeal supporting this functionality. Apple Pay is available on iPhone SE, iPhone 6, 6 Plus and more recent models.


To pay for purchases at Azbuka Vkusa is even easier. After linking your card to your fingerprints on the cash register you can pay without your card a fingerprint is enough. By the end of the year the results of the pilot project will be analyzed and this system may go online for all retail stores. Azbuka Vkusa has 95 shops and it made around 700 million US dollars in revenue in 2015. Cards are used for 37% of the payments made by costumers there, generating about 52% of all revenue.


Easy ways of payment are getting more popular, no question about that", says Svetozar Yakhontov, Director of Business Development at Safe`n`Sec Corporation. "There are some threats, however, that must be negated in order for everything to work smoothly. Cybercriminals already can snatch card data on the fly if they manage to infect the processing computer connected to a working POS terminal, and there are ways to create fingerprint replicas working as real user fingers without too much problems. If hackers steal your card and take your money, you can at least block it and ask your bank for another one. But who are you going to ask for a new set of fingerprints if some malware manages to steal your data?


Most experts admit that mobile payment services have a high level of security, thanks to several factors including double authorization, says Natalia Yashenkova, Head of Marketing and PR at StarForce Technologies. But there are two weak points: a code to unlock a mobile phone can be spied at a public place and payments of less than 15 US dollars can be performed without entering a pin code. It is really interesting what would be the procedure if fingerprints are compromised. Banks and regulators should pay much more attention to the protection of payment processing against hacker attacks and fraudulent activities of employees. Above all I can see two trends: the first the value of phones to customers has again increased since pay functionality is added, and the second - reliable biometric identification could eventually make plastic cards and mobile phones obsolete to make payments.


 

October 04, 2016


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