One password your kids can’t memorise

Samsung are the latest to add a biometrics feature onto their new smartphone.

Galaxy S5 smartphone
New biometrics feature authenticates mobile payments

The Galaxy S5, which is currently available to pre-order, will feature a fingerprint scanner in the same way as the Apple iPhone 5 does, with the main button on the front doubling as a scanner to unlock the device.

The security feature won’t just help to protect the phone from unwanted access if it’s lost or stolen, it can also be used to authenticate payments, as Samsung has partnered with Paypal to offer ‘payment-by-finger’.

That’s one way to stop the kids from buying something they shouldn’t on your Ebay account.

Is biometrics the future in mobile payments?

This new feature is a talking point, but can we expect this type of techology to become commonplace?

Mobile payments as a concept is proving to be slower to catch on here than was predicted. Market analysts have been saying ‘this is the year’ for nearly a decade, but in the US, only 3-7% of consumers currently use their phones to buy goods in a shop.

Mobile banking is popular, but actually making a mobile payment, for example paying your bill in a restaurant via PayPal, is taking a while to get off the ground. But making person-to-person transactions via your mobile phone is growing, and nearly twice as many consumers are using mobile payments now than they did last year.

Is biometrics the stumbling block?

The kids don’t mind

There is still a real reticence amongst consumers about the use of biometrics technology, particularly when it comes to payments. Iris scanners, fingerprint scanners and even the newer palm & vein scanners all generate concerns that primarily revolve around privacy and the potential for misappropriation of data.

Those with a darker side worry about the lengths thieves might go to in order to steal your biometrics password: severed fingers, gouged-out eyeballs etc.

But is it merely a generation thing?

For those who have grown-up with the technology, a fingerprint scanner is commonplace. The fact that it’s now part of the latest smartphones makes it part of the furniture. Much in the way that they’re used to being able to stop and rewind live TV (“you mean there was a time when you couldn’t?”), it will become normal to authenticate payments with their own body.

School rules ok?

Many schools, particularly in the US, are looking into biometrics methods to ensure the safety and security of their students. A biometric solution brings a whole host of advantages in terms of access control. Unlike smart cards that can be passed around, stolen or misused, a fingerprint can’t.

There is naturally caution over the introduction of such a system, but most opposition comes from the school administration and parents – not the kids themselves.

After all, using the fingerprint scanner on your smartphone to pay for lunch, take out library books and get in the building isn’t just convenient, it’s kinda cool.

Get used to it, it’s the future

As the oft-quoted Douglas Adams said, in describing our reactions to technologies:

1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.

2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.

3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

So it’s only a matter of time.