NMI’s executive team discusses changing consumer attitudes towards biometric payments and other predictions for 2024 in Payments 2024: NMI Executive Predictions and Insights for the Year Ahead.

Biometrics is a technology that uses individual physiology — fingerprints and facial geometry — to verify a person’s identity. These tools allow users to simplify processes like logging in and unlocking devices through biometric authentication. However, biometric use cases go beyond basic tasks; they also streamline the payments experience while adding an additional layer of security.

These tools allow merchants and payment providers to offer faster, more convenient checkout experiences while blocking bad actors.

Although biometric tools have become mainstream in many countries, some consumers (particularly those in the United States) are wary of giving away such personal information. However, now that biometric privacy and data security have become more robust, consumers are starting to feel more comfortable with this innovative technology.

In 2024, NMI’s executive team believes the industry will see an uptick in biometric payment adoption as more merchants aim to exceed consumer preferences for speed and convenience.

This increased exposure will help soften consumer attitudes and increase demand.

Digital Wallets Will Introduce More Consumers to Biometric Payment Security

Biometric verification is a critical payments step for most digital wallets. For example, phone-based digital wallets use either a face or thumb scan to authorize payments. Apple Pay shoppers can use the print scanners built into MacBooks for the same purpose. All contactless Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) terminals are also digital wallet terminals by default; they have built-in near-field communication (NFC) technology.

In essence, anyone with a smartphone can access biometric payment technology, whether they realize it or not. The benefits of biometrics — namely speed and high security — go beyond in-store tap payments.

“The year ahead will see us making much more use of biometric payments, and not only for in-person transactions but online as well,” says NMI Chief Marketing Officer Peter Galvin. “We’ll soon see the more widespread adoption of Apple Pay, Google Pay and other digital wallets embedded into online payments, making it possible to pay for just about anything with just the touch of your finger or a scan of your face. And that’s a much faster, easier payment process for consumers.”

Novel Biometric Payment Options Will Lessen Consumer Resistance

Phone-based digital wallets are the most common biometric payment device. However, retailers are experimenting with new applications that will take biometrics out of the consumer’s pocket and into the real world.

“I saw recently at Whole Foods that I can use my palm with Amazon Pay,” said NMI Chief Executive Officer Vijay Sondhi. “That is incredibly convenient. That’s a big trend you’re going to see take off across the board in 2024, but especially in the payments space.”

In-store biometric applications increase checkout convenience — the single most important factor in how consumers choose to pay. Amazon is even incorporating age verification so customers can buy alcohol with a palm scan instead of showing a physical ID. Technologies like these that streamline the shopping and payment experience will become an increasingly important differentiator.

The U.S. Payments Market Will Be More Forward-Thinking

The U.S. is traditionally slow to advance payments technology. It adopted contactless EMV after all its peer countries and may do the same with biometric payment technology. Just one in four Americans are comfortable using a biometric hand scanner for payment. Meanwhile, 50% of Canadian and British consumers are open to adopting biometric payments and log-ins.

Consumer attitudes are a function of familiarity. The more exposed consumers are to biometrics, the more familiar (and comfortable) they will be with this technology. In 2024, consumers will see an influx of new biometric payment options, likely leading to more widespread adoption.

For more 2024 predictions from the NMI executive team, download Payments 2024: NMI Executive Predictions and Insights for the Year Ahead.

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