Biometrics Can Enhance POS Security
Earlier this week, reports surfaced that a security researcher was claiming to have hacked an Amazon server and dumped the information of tens of thousands of users online. (So far, Amazon has dismissed the incident as nonsense.) And fast-food chain Wendy’s is also grappling with a very real breach affecting more than 1,000 outlets nationwide. Those reports underscore just how prevalent security breaches are and how devastating they can be.
Sure, credit card companies are now issuing chip cards, which are more secure than those old magnetic-stripe types. But they aren’t as secure as chip-and-pin, which is standard in Europe. Those cards are equipped with a chip that generates a unique code for each transaction, which makes it more difficult to churn out fake cards for future fraudulent purchases. However, biometrics provide even more security.
Biometrics include technology such as fingerprint systems, facial recognition, iris scanning and voice identification. Biometrics Research Group predicts the global biometrics market to soar to $15 billion this year, up from an estimated $7 million just three years ago. And, technology consulting firm Frost & Sullivan predicts that nearly a half-billion people will be using a smartphone equipped with biometric technology by 2017.
Can You Prove Who You Are?
One of the big benefits biometrics could offer the retail industry is PoS payment authentication. Just as facial recognition can help airports and arenas scan crowds for fugitives, biometrics can help retailers verify shoppers’ identities — even online stores. For example, Amazon has filed a patent application for biometric technology that could be used for identity verification.
Amazon’s technology works like this: The person attempting to sign in or complete a purchase is prompted to “perform an action in view of a camera or sensor.” After completing a sequence of checks, the program identifies the shopper and verifies the person is a living human rather than simply a photograph. The customer might be asked to wave or make another type of gesture, for instance. Once the user is authenticated the transaction can be completed.
Right now, fingerprint recognition is the easiest, most accessible way retailers can bring the security of biometrics into their operations without too much investment. Debuting on Sept. 10, 2013, the iPhone 5s was the first phone to feature such biometric technology. Today, brick and mortar businesses — in particular, cafeterias at schools and nursing facilities — are using fingerprint solutions to allow patrons to quickly access accounts without having to remember passwords or swipe cards.
Moving beyond alphanumeric passwords is critical for continued retail growth. Biometric security technologies can be integrated into just about everything — for retailers both online and off.
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