NFC and QR codes have received the lion’s share of attention in the discussion surrounding the future of payments, but one startup believes biometrics may have more to offer. PayTango is working with universities to enable students to pay with only their fingerprints.
The on-boarding process for users is really easy. They touch the fingerpad with their index and middle fingers and if they’re not in the system already, PayTango automatically detects that. It will ask them to swipe a card to associate with their fingerprints and then enter in their cell phone number. That sign-up process made it fast enough for 100 students to sign-up within four hours on campus.
PayTango readers integrate directly into merchants’ POS terminals and software, and the company has developed a prototype that costs just over $1,500 to produce, although they are working on bringing those costs down.
Initially, the company is focusing on dense networks of merchants and consumers, such as college campuses and fitness centers. This helps enable merchants to reach a large number of customers who are inclined to become regular patrons.
The problem facing biometrics is similar to the one facing mobile payments: both merchants and consumers are satisfied with cards as a form factor for payments. However, whereas mobile offers a screen interface and smart technology, biometrics provide little more than a minimal amount of added convenience in not having to handle a card. While biometrics do provide additional security over cards, the security provided by cards is adequate to convince consumers and merchants to use them regularly. Biometric payments are a solution without a problem, and, unlike mobile payments, don’t provide sufficient benefits to make them worthwhile.
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