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Biometric payment methods set to rise in popularity as consumers steer away from mobile devices

Geoffrey Barraclough is Head of Corporate Propositions at Worldpay, a major player in payments processing market. He's focused on reducing the hassle of taking money with cards by simplifying the interactions between till, card machine and bank.

Recent research from WorldPay revealed that paying for goods and services through fingerprint, palm and iris scanners is the most popular future technology choice for security-conscious shoppers, far outweighing the popularity of emerging mobile technology options like smartphone and SMS payments, and online wallets.

ITProPortal queried Mr Barraclough on how paying for something can provide with some interesting insights.

What concerns consumers when making card payments?

According to our WorldPay research examining the public's attitudes and usage of emerging payment technologies, security seems to be the most important consideration for consumers. Almost half of consumers wanted to pay for goods and services through fingerprint, palm and iris scanners.

Where have consumers got their ideas from?

It's interesting to see the public considering options such as biometric payments, a technology that they may have seen in sci-fi films or on TV, which suggests familiarity and visibility of new payment technologies is crucial in moving usage from tech savvy enthusiasts to the wider public. It will be interesting to see if card providers start to think about this.

Will customers continue to use smartphones?

1 in 5 people have made a payment of some type through their smartphone, almost a third of people would like to use PIN based smartphone payments, and 23 per cent are keen to use SMS payments, so it looks like smartphone payments are here to stay.

Can you see payments through social media growing?

We don't see payments growing in this area anytime soon. Paying through social media was the least popular choice in our research, with only 12 per cent of consumers expressing they would like to use it.

How do we go about introducing a new payment type?

Firstly, you need to build a business case for the new payment type looking at the benefits for your customers (for example shorter queues), or for your business (i.e. extra footfall or cheaper payment transaction bills).

Will there be support from payment providers during the implementation?

Your payment services and EPOS providers should advise you throughout the process. It's important too that you create a cross-functional project team with representatives from finance, IT, store operations, training, fraud, security and communications/marketing.

It is essential to pilot the new solution in various outlets with different characteristics. This will iron out any niggles before a large scale rollout. The pilot needs to consider all aspects of the implementation, and test and measure constantly. Set a series of Key Performance Indicators; for example authorisation speed, total transaction time, queue length and customer satisfaction. Use these to bench mark the success of the implementation.

If it meets your business needs then you can start a roll-out across your network. If not, reconsider whether a few tweaks will do the trick or whether to return to the drawing board.

Staff and customers are often unsure about new technology, what can be done to encourage adoption?

Involve your marketing/communications department early on to make sure you have a robust plan in place. Staff need to know how the new payment method works and how to be an advocate of it. There's no point investing in a new payment type if your staff remain ignorant about its benefits. Customers need to know about the new technology, the benefits of it, and how to use it. Make sure you design some impactful point of sale materials in store.

Where can I find out more about the research?

The full report titled "Optimising your Omni-Payments: consumers, payments and the future" is available on (opens in new tab).

What is your heritage in this area?

We are a provider of payment and risk services, offer services across the entire payment value chain, including acquiring, gateway, alternative payments, risk management, and mobile payments. We give businesses of all sizes the ability to accept credit and debit card payments face to face, by phone or online. Our online payment gateways cater for over 200 payment methods in 115 currencies.

Désiré Athow
Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.