Say goodbye to your PIN number
PIN'S days are numbered.
From ATMs and restaurants to online shopping and Amazon Alexa, pretty soon you will be making completely "frictionless" transactions using your thumbprint, voice, retina and even heartbeat, according to Visa.
The credit card giant is currently working with the rest of the payments industry on new standards for migration from PIN to thumbprint, and the consumers should see the technology by the end of the year.
"Australians are not only tech-hungry but they're very savvy in terms of how to use that technology," said Rob Walls, head of product at Visa Australia.
"We see the penetration of smartphones, internet banking and paywave - Australia leads the way in paywave adoption. You're starting to see new devices and payments experiences coming into the market. Australians are increasingly using Siri as part of their engagement, ordering a pizza for example."
According to a YouGov poll commissioned by Visa, more than half of respondents (56 per cent) said they would be comfortable using their thumbprint, voice or retina to make a payment. Nearly half (45 per cent) said biometrics were appealing for being more secure, and 40 per cent liked the idea of not having to remember a PIN or password.
But while more than a quarter (29 per cent) would use an internet-connected device such as a smart home virtual assistant or fridge to make payments on their behalf, less than half (39 per cent) said they would be willing to share their personal information in exchange for convenience in payments.
"Industry research suggests eight out of 10 people are using the same PIN across the majority of their payment cards," Mr Walls said. "In 2020, the average consumer will have more than 200 passwords they have to remember.
"That just means an explosion of places where your card details might be stored. To remove that risk, we can push that authentication to something that's more natural and unique to the consumer, such as a retina scan, a thumbprint or heartbeat. There will be no more fumbling for your wallet, pushing in a 16-digit card number."
Any change will be gradual, however. "It's an evolution, not a revolution," Mr Walls said "You've got to make sure you cater for every individual in the market as the ecosystem changes. To accept biometrics takes a long time - the point-of-sale terminals, the people manufacturing them, the banks putting them out, and merchants accepting them."
With recent high-profile hacks and data breaches, Mr Walls said the credit card giant was "acutely aware" of the need to get standards and implementation around biometric authentication right from the outset.
"The opportunity is high, but there are also risks around not getting the security standards right, which may impact privacy and trust down the track," he said.
"The standard we're devising with industry ensures the biometric details never leave the device. Your voice or thumb is authenticated by the device you're using, and that proof that you are who you say you are is transmitted."
Anders Sorman-Nilsson, futurist and founder of strategy consultancy Thinque, said any technology that reduces friction from the life of the consumer was exciting.
"My mum is a Baby Boomer, she hates the world of the internet partly as a result of her lack of organisation around passwords," Mr Sorman-Nilsson said.
"She loves biometric authentication on her iPhone. She says, 'This just saves me so much hassle.' So when she can buy something digitally on iTunes through biometric authentication, that just removes the friction of having to remember passwords."
Mr Sorman-Nilsson said we had "moved on" from the time when "cash was king". "I think the consumer is ahead of what companies give them credit for, and often times mindshare eventually leads to maketshare," he said.
"It would be a hugely liberating era where instead of passwords and numbers we have biometric authentication by thumbprint or retina. Of course all of those are turned into dynamic, encrypted numbers, but at the end of the day we don't have to remember them.
"We're nearly at the point where Minority Report is playing out, science fiction is becoming commercial reality, that's quite an exciting fact."