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RBTE 2017: Consumers increasingly embracing biometric solutions

Face recognition and fingerprint authentication are no longer alien to consumers who are increasingly embracing such technologies within the retail environment, according to payments firm Visa.

Natasha Toothill, head of merchant services at Visa, said that consumers used to view biometrics sceptically but with the likes of face recognition now adopted by airports, they now saw the technology as being an effective way of removing points of friction and helping to speed up their journey.

"Customers were initially unwilling to have face recognition in retail but now that it is used by airports it is being accepted more," she said, citing early examples of its use in the sector including prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses brand Warby Parker recommending spectacles based on shoppers' face shapes and marketing campaigns involving content on digital screens being personalised based on the face of the person passing by.

"There are also hotels using face recognition to identify VIP guests and some retailers using it to spot shoplifters," said Toothill, who added that all such biometric technologies are simply a way to identify somebody in a seamless way.

This is the objective of the latest Verified-by-Visa release, which uses fingerprinting to identify and authenticate the shopper online. "It will be used for in-app purchases because we recognise that we need to improve the customer experience," said Toothill.

Certainly the research suggests shoppers are ready to embrace such technologies and accept it as a way to pay. Toothill cited the figure that 73% of people have as much confidence in fingerprinting as chip and PIN, and that 68% of people want to use biometrics as a method of authentication.

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