French businesses trial biometric payments technology

25 October 2012

Posted by Samuel Couratin

New technology that enables customers to pay for goods and services using biometric data is being piloted by companies in France.

The solution combines contactless cards with fingerprints or finger vein patterns in order to validate payments and is being rolled out in the country by a group of retailers, banks and IT companies.

It will see shoppers offered the opportunity to finalize sales using their fingertips and trials are being run to see if the system has the potential to be rolled out more widely.

The technology has been created by biometrics firm Natural Security, which was founded in 2008 and counts banks BNP Paribas and Banque Accord, manufacturer Ingenico and retailers Auchan and Leroy Merlin among its stakeholders.

It is initially being tested at locations near Lille and Bordeaux for a period of six months and participants signing up to the scheme will be provided with a case for credit cards that will enable them to communicate with payment terminals.

Cedric Hozanne, Chief Executive of Natural Security, is quoted by Finextra as stating that the technology "is designed to protect privacy and personal data: the data and applications used for authentication are stored on a personal device (eg smart card, SD card) and remain solely under the user's control".

As biometric technology becomes more widely used, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has published best practice guidance for the use of facial recognition technology.

According to the FTC, businesses employing the solutions should be designed in a way that takes consumer privacy into account.

"Facial recognition technologies have been adopted in a variety of contexts, ranging from online social networks and mobile apps to digital signs," the report noted, adding that this has led to growing concerns about privacy and security, which must be addressed.

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