Could biometrics change the payment industry?

Earlier this week, Apple announced the new iPhone and one of the biggest talking points since the press event has been the inclusion of a fingerprint scanner built into the home button. It will be a major technology boost when it comes to security of the device, but there is another possible avenue that this technology could touch — mobile payments.

For the last few years, many industry experts have stated that once Apple goes all in with a payment feature in the iPhone, mobile payments with the device at the cash register would take off. However, each hardware unveiling has left payment people wanting more. Though adding biometrics is a step in the direction that Apple hadn't taken before.

The use of fingerprint scanners for payment authorization is hardly a new trend. An Economic Times article covered recent developments in India were all credit card processing machines and ATMs will be outfitted with biometric technology. This technology was chosen over NFC because most card providers have not updated their offerings to include the technology yet.

Several bankers are quoted in the piece about the large cost implications of upgrading current technology. One even compared it to investing in building a train system after spending money on roads.

If merchants and other businesses find themselves in a position to upgrade payment hardware, they should take the time to improve their POS software as well. Any kind of payment processing needs to be secure from all sides and the software portion is critical and sometimes overlooked.

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