Leave Your Wallet At Home. Just Bring Your FingerMarch 13, 2017 | By Neale Godfrey of Forbes
The mobile phone has become more than a cool tool to stay connected with your friends or a way to get a daily chuckle over the next Presidential tweet. We talk, we record, we snap pictures, and yes, we shop via those devices. According to Scott Blum, VP at Total Merchant Services, “Technologies including mobile wallets, on-demand apps, a new era of digital assistants, and enhanced connectivity through near field communications (NFC) and Bluetooth are transforming the way consumers interact and rely on their phones.”
Blum goes on to predict that, “At one-fourth the U.S. population, millennials will lead the charge to do away with credit cards and opt for the easy and seamless experience of mobile wallets. Using NFC technology, mobile wallets will exceed consumer expectations for convenience in 2017. With all the major players in the mobile device industry having delivered their own version of the mobile wallet (e.g. Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay) …”
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, confirms this trend toward the mobile wallet, as reported in 9to5mac.com. Apple Pay is really expanding its reach; in fact, its Services division, if taken alone would, “…now [be] the size of a Fortune 100 company… [Apple Pay] transaction volume is up 500% year over year…” when looking at Q1 2017 earnings.
“Let Your Fingers Do The Shopping”
Not everyone is scrambling to use mobile wallets. When you look at the results of the 2016 North American Consumer Digital Payments Survey conducted by Accenture, “…consumers are still relying largely on traditional payments methods despite the availability of reliable digital payments providers.”
The consumer knows that alternatives to traditional payments exist, as the report notes that, “56% of consumers are now aware they can use their smartphone to pay.” It’s also no surprise that “Millennials and mass affluents are digital payments trailblazers.” Safety is a real concern, especially considering the hacking that keeps happening; however, “the horse has left the barn.” As the Accenture study points out, “Making payments is part of consumers’ everyday lives. Before long, making digital payments will be too. Because after years of steady momentum, digital payments are on the verge of becoming mainstream—and there’s no turning back.”
The Bad Guys Are Always Lurking
According to a 2016 Gallup poll, “Americans are significantly more likely to say their households have been victimized by credit card information theft than to say they were victims of any of the other eight crimes Gallup measured in its 2016 Crime survey.” The United States Department of Justice states that “Cybercrime is one of the greatest threats facing our country, and has enormous implications for our national security, economic prosperity, and public safety.”
We are moving to a cashless society, but it is scary. I spoke with Jason Chaikin, President of Vkansee. His company is literally trying to crack the code to come up with cutting edge solutions to security issues. To date, Vkansee’s website claims that they have, “developed the world’s first under-glass and most secure, optical fingerprint sensor… 4X the resolution of most competitors, and higher resolution means more accuracy.”
Jason explained to me that, “with fraud in the financial markets reaching into the hundreds of billions of dollars, and identity theft reaching 16 billion dollars in the U.S. alone, there is a growing need for a solution. It’s not just about removing cash, but finding a way to authenticate a legitimate user for a transaction. To really solve the problem, a new paradigm is needed and it’s as close as our faces, fingers or eyes. If each transaction requires a fingerprint, face or iris scan in addition to a login and password, it would go a long way to ensure a legitimate user.”
We have “fake news,” so why can’t we have fake fingerprints? Not to worry, there are people making fake fingerprints. As Jason explained, fake fingerprints are possible, but it is difficult and you need to start with the real one. I’m not going into the exact ways to create fingerprints, but suffice it to say that, you will need such things as; a real finger to capture the print, putty, Play-doh or modeling clay, paraffin, a refrigerator or a freezer, gelatin, boiling water, etc. There are sites that will give you the skinny on this, but I am not going to refer you to any. The short answer is that it is not easy to create fake fingerprints.
“Fake” is always a risk, and Jason points out that, “Vkansee’s sensors scan at high resolutions thus allowing them to see micro details of the finger which are quite difficult to reproduce in a fake fingerprint of gelatin, Play-doh, or other materials.”
I also challenged Jason about the situation that I have encountered when using my fingerprints. I have long nails. Not nails that curl under and would impress a Chinese emperor, but I do support my local nail salon. I have had some difficulty having my fingerprints scanned. I, of course, turned this into a sexist ploy inferring that most testers were probably male and that long nails were not an issue. Jason calmly debunked that notion by quickly sighting statistics proving that length of nails was not an issue.
The point is that cash and credit cards may soon be a thing of the past. Shortly, you may be relating stories to your grandkids about “the good ‘ole days” and start the tale with, “Once upon a time we had this stuff we called cash…”
You may also want to add that, when you were their age, you went to far-off lands by using your library card. Then, when you grew, you went to those places using your credit card. Now all they will need is their finger or possibly the wink of the eye!