Mobile payments have become established in Germany in 2020. Alongside contactless NFC cards more and more smart phones or smart watches are now being used for payment transactions. The first biometric payment methods have already been launched worldwide.
Payment by moving just the palm of your hand might sound like science fiction but this actually became reality not long ago. In late September Amazon announced that Amazon Go customers will in future be able to check in at their check-out-free stores with their hands. Amazon One is the name of the new service, which has so far been available at two stores in Seattle. To make use of the service, shoppers simply have to have their palm scanned once at the entrance. These biometric data are then linked to the credit card and the mobile phone number and can then be used for identification and release for payment any time. An Amazon account is not required. The US group not only wants to roll out this feature itself over the coming months but also offers it as a payment method to third parties such as retailers, operators of arenas or office blocks. The group is already actively discussing with potential customers, writes Dilip Kumar, Vice President Physical Retail & Technology at Amazon in the corporate blog.
Biometric processes could become the next big thing in payment transactions. Not least due to the Covid-pandemic, hygienic, contactless payment options are enjoying a marked upswing worldwide. This is also the case in Germany: according to a current survey in the sector conducted by industry association Bitkom, one in four shoppers now pays with debit or credit cards on a regular basis.
As much as 16% like to use their smartphones or smartwatches at the check-out to pay by Apple Pay, Google Pay, digital loyalty card or cross-retail App. “Hygienic payments by card and smartphone have become a standard in many physical stores within just a few weeks,” says Björn Hoffmeyer, Chief Commercial Officer at payment service provider Payone. Since October Samsung has been operating a mobile payment solution that even enables instalment payments for amounts over € 100. However, the user-friendly digital wallets of such international technology groups as Apple, Google, Samsung & Co are not only driving up the use of mobile payment methods but also allowing users to become accustomed to biometric identification processes such as Fingerprint or Face-ID. Biometric payment processes even go one step further allowing shoppers to leave not only their purses but also their smartphones in their pockets and simply authorise transactions with the palm of their hands or their faces.
Shopping with Empty Hands
In China payment by face recognition has already been possible since 2017. Shoppers can use the technology independently of their smartphone. All they need is an account with a payment service provider such as Alipay or WeChat Pay. Numerous convenience stores, bakeries and kiosks in China already promote shopping with empty hands. In Europe the Romanian start-up Pay By Face – supported by the Visa card organisation – has developed one of the first European payment systems based on face recognition into a marketable product this year. Users register by submitting a selfie along with their passport and credit card number – they can then activate payments at participating retailers by matching their face with the photo. For retailers and shoppers this service is free, Pay By Face is financed by advertising that is featured on the screen used for face recognition. Payments are settled by the retailers’ acquirer just like any other card-not-present transaction.
Up Romania is one of the first European companies to accept biometric Pay by Face payments. This provider of meal vouchers serves over 1 million corporate customers in 30 countries with a total of nearly 30 million cardholders.
More Diversity at the Check-Out
Björn Hoffmeyer, member of the managing board at Payone, is convinced that the trend towards digital payments will continue – and he is not alone. The digital industry association Bitkom is campaigning for at least one digital payment option usable across Europe to be offered for each payment transaction. In its recently published “Retail Payments Strategy” the EU Commission also recommends strengthening cashless payments by European providers. The position paper envisages establishing so-called instant payments as a pan-European payment system, to name but one measure. With these instant payments the money is available on the recipient’s account within seconds. Brussels is considering mandatory acceptance at the check-out as well as a cap for fees.
Summary: when it comes to cashless payments retail companies should gear up for a growing range of solutions and a rapid-moving, innovative landscape. According to the international payment service provider Ingenico, one of the top priorities is to allow shoppers a fast, seamless and safe check-out using the means of payment of their choice. EuroCIS offers an ideal platform to gather information on current developments revolving around cashless payments.