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The Green Sheet Online Edition

June 25, 2018 • Issue 18:06:02

Readers Speak: A huge downside to biometric authentication

In "57 mobile channels and nothing on," published in The Green Sheet's May 28 edition, Dale S. Laszig wrote, "The U.S. Payments Forum confirmed merchants are usually liable for fraud in CNP transactions but noted they can shift liability to card issuers by implementing 3D Secure and other security tools in smartphones that include device ID, geolocation and biometrics."

Whenever I read "biometrics" in relation to payment authentication, it gives me pause. I'll explain just a few things about biometrics in case some readers aren't familiar with it. Simply put, it is the identification of a person through unique biological characteristics such as fingerprints, facial recognition and iris scans.

These characteristics are unique to each individual, and using one or more of them for authentication has certain advantages, for example, they can't be forgotten or lost, they can lead to improved security as well as an improved customer experience, and I've been told they can reduce operational costs, too.

On the downside, however, biometric measurements can be affected by the environment housing the equipment; they typically require the purchase of hardware or

effective integration with existing systems, which can be gnarly; and studies have shown they are not actually 100 percent accurate.

However, the big thing, the one thing that gives me pause above all other is that these biometric characteristics cannot be reset once they are compromised. And you can be sure that the more widespread their use becomes, the more fraudsters will attack systems using them and find ways to compromise them. What happens next when that occurs? Who is thinking about that? I don't think it's a matter of if; it's a matter of when, that is, if we go further down the biometrics road.

Ed Willington,Merchant Level Salesperson


You've brought up an important point. Next time we delve into biometrics in a feature article, we'll be sure to explore what industry experts working in the field of payment security have to say.


Are you OK with biometrics?

Are you worried about biometric data being compromised by fraudsters? How might that affect payments? Share your thoughts on this and other new developments in payments at greensheet@greensheet.com. end of article

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