Are Biometrics the Future of Credit Cards?

Credit and debit cards have taken the place of cash for most modern transactions. What’s next? According to research from Emme Kozloff, a Sanford Bernstein analyst, the power to buy groceries will soon be at your fingertips.

Wal Mart and Costco are looking into biometric payment systems. These work by recognizing the fingerprint of registered users. The customers place their fingertip on a pad, then select which form of payment they would like to use – check, debit, or credit. Proponents of the new system applaud its benefits to customer security and faster checkout speeds.

Critics of biometric payment point out that fingerprints are left on everything a person touches. It would be fairly easy to take a piece of tape and “lift” these latent fingerprints for fraudulent use. There is also concern about having one’s fingerprint images stored in a computer, but biometric vendors insist that the prints themselves are not stored. Instead, encrypted measurements of the prints are kept. These do not permit recreation of a full print.

Customers are advised to keep their hands clean when making biometric transactions. If hands are too dirty, the machine might not be able to read the fingerprint.

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