European consumers are ready to make payments using biometric authentication, with half of consumers believing payments will be faster and easier. Over two-thirds of European consumers are calling for biometrics, with 75% wanting two-factor authentication to secure their payments.

Two-factor authentication is the combination of "something you have" – a card or a mobile device –with "something you are" – a biometric, PIN or password.

Research from Visa stated fingerprint recognition is the most popular form of biometrics, with 81% of consumers believing it is the most secure, followed by iris scanning (76%).  

The study of over 14,000 European consumers, concluded the advance of mobile payments has caused fingerprint recognition to fall in favour because of its ease of use and security. Meanwhile the trust in voice or facial recognition across Europe is much lower, with only 12% and 15% respectively wanting to use these biometrics to secure payments while shopping.

"Biometric identification and verification has created a great deal of excitement in the payments space because it offers an opportunity to streamline and improve the customer experience," said Jonathan Vaux, executive director of innovation partnerships, at Visa Europe. "However, one of the challenges for biometrics is scenarios in which it is the only form of authentication. It could result in a false positive or false negative because, unlike a PIN which is entered either correctly or incorrectly, biometrics are not a binary measurement but are based on the probability of a match."

Vaux explained that biometrics work best when they are linked to other factors, such as the device, geolocation technologies or with an additional authentication method. "That’s why we believe that it’s important to take a holistic approach that considers a wide range of enabling technologies that contribute to a better end-to-end experience, from provisioning a card to making a purchase to checking your balance."

Vaux continued: "As we move into the future, consumers will have an increasing number of choices in how they pay. Just as the payment behaviour will change dependent on where you are and on what device you are shopping, the methods of authentication will need to be use-case appropriate.  While biometric forms of authentication offer significant opportunities to achieve the right balance between convenience and security, they are not the only answer. In the future we will see a mix of solutions dependent on the purchasing situation. By adapting our standards to recognise these technologies as valid forms of authentication now, we can help provide the environment for payments to continue to take place securely, conveniently and discreetly.”