PayPal and Samsung embrace biometrics for m-payment authentication

PayPal and Samsung have extended their collaboration with a new biometric feature that will allow users of the new Galaxy S5 smartphone to use fingerprint authentication for mobile payments with PayPal merchants. PayPal argues that this is a major innovation in m-payment, introducing a new level of convenience for consumers compared to the familiar login-and-password authentication model.

But we think consumers will be wary and need some convincing due to security concerns. In Ovum’s 2013 Consumer Insights Survey, almost half the survey respondents (49%) ranked lack of security as their priority concern with mobile payments. Consumers already worried about the security of established m-payment mechanisms are likely to view a new technology and process with suspicion.

On the positive side, Samsung is a hugely popular smartphone brand with global reach, while PayPal is a trusted online payment provider. This is a powerful combination. PayPal stresses that fingerprint authentication is a secure feature based on a FIDO-ready software implementation. PayPal is the first member of the FIDO Alliance to produce a solution of this kind; other members include Google and Microsoft.

The PayPal fingerprint authentication feature will go live on the Samsung Galaxy S5 in 26 markets this April. PayPal expects more device manufacturers to adopt the technology going forward.

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