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Contactless biometrics trial launched

Contactless biometrics trial launched
Thursday November 1 2012

Biometric touch generic imageNew payment method incorporating payment cards, biometrics and mid-range contactless technology goes live in French outlets

A pilot deployment of a new payment method that combines a smart payment card, biometrics and mid-range contactless communication has been launched in France. Home improvement chain Leroy Merlin is among a number of French retailers trialling the new payment system with Natural Security, in partnership with Banque Accord, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Crédit Mutuel Arkéa, Groupe Auchan and Ingenico.

Customers of Auchan, Leroy Merlin and certain associated retailers in Angoulême (close to Bordeaux, South West of France) and Villeneuve d’Ascq (close to Lille, North of France) have the opportunity to try out this new way of paying for purchases, which the suppliers say is simple and smooth and that also guarantees privacy and protection of personal data.

Comparative biometric tech testing

Two biometric technologies will be tested during the six-month pilot: digital fingerprints in Angoulême and finger vein patterns in Villeneuve d'Ascq. Customers of partner banks will be invited to visit their bank branch to register their biometric data in their credit card so they can take advantage of the opportunity to pay for purchases using this unique method in participating stores. All transactions are authenticated using biometrics and contactless technology, so customers do not have to present their cards or enter a PIN.

The pilot will lay the foundations of an authentication system for online and card-present payments and access to services. The partners said it would provide a very high level of security, and is being designed to easy and efficient to use for all types of transactions. This includes proximity and remote payment, physical and logical access control, no matter where they take place i.e. at home, instore or in a bank branch.

The new device combines a payment card that stores an EMV payment application, as well as the biometric data used for authentication, with biometrics, to authenticate customers without requiring a PIN and ensuring they are present for the transaction. It also incorporates a case for the card that enables it to communicate with the biometric reader connected to the payment terminal, approximately 1.5 to 2 metres away.

Offering secure, handsfree payment

Combining a secure mid-range contactless technology with biometrics simplifies authentication, as the user only has to place a finger on a biometric reader, they no longer have to enter a PIN or manipulate a card (hands-free user experience). This saves time at the till spent searching in bags and pockets for purses or wallets.

The system is being deployed in stores so it can be tested in real-life situations. And the trial itself has three objectives: to validate the various technical aspects of the project such as biometric ‘match-on-card’ and mid-range contactless technologies; gauge the reactions of consumers, retailers and banks; and evaluate support processes such as the data enrolment.

No other previous trial has compared two different biometric technologies to evaluate the performance and user experience together in a real life situation.

The trial will also aim to validate EMV transactions carried out by consumers, with cards issued by several banks.

Cedric Hozanne, Natural Security chief executive, commented: “This the first time that data is kept exclusively on a smartcard that remains in the user’s possession and is not traceable. Natural Security's approach is designed to protect privacy and personal data: the data and applications used for authentication are stored on a personal device (e.g. smart card, SD card) and remain solely under the user's control. This limits the risk of data misuse and theft. We fully expect that the results of the trial will be positive and we look forward to replicating the success internationally.”