Why the Biometric Payment Card Should be Considered a Solution, Rather than a Product

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By Phil Sealy | 2Q 2022 | IN-6543

The biometric payment card market continues on its positive market trajectory, yet processes related to enrollment and how best to address enrollment requirements remain a question that has yet to be fully answered. The biometric payment card itself is just one market aspect, but when paired with the requirement for enrollment, the technology becomes a solution, rather than a standalone product. This insight will delve into the different enrollment registry solutions available today and outline why the biometric payment card should be considered a solution rather than a product.

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There is More to the Biometric Payment Card Than Just the Card


The biometric payment card is on its positive market pathway. Pilots are active globally and expanding, with the card form factor pitched as the next generation of payment card to help address contactless authentication to provide a future contactless payments experience without limits.

Despite the positive market momentum, a few questions remain, primarily related to the enrollment process and how best to address it. This additional process and added level of complexity mean that the biometric payment card should not be considered a simple migration process, though an issuing bank can replace an existing contactless payment card with a biometric-enabled one.

In addition to the card itself, which works alongside existing contactless Point of Sale (POS) infrastructure, is the requirement to build in and design the fingerprint enrollment process. This can be completed in several different ways with solutions developed to enable centralized, remote, and in-field possibilities.

With enrollment in mind, the biometric payment card becomes more than a standalone product, and vendors should be extremely mindful to ensure all the required enrollment bases are covered before offering a biometric payment card solution.

The Enrollment Conundrum


Enrollment remains an integral part of the biometric payment card ecosystem, as it is foundational in order to enable the biometric payment card form factor.

There is still debate about the best way to address the enrollment process. It is largely and collectively agreed that a Match-on-Card (MOC) solution is the most appropriate, but how best to address this, either via a mobile application, enrollment sleeve, or combination of the two, remains unknown. Today there are several enrollment service possibilities including centralized, remote, in-field, and mobile. All have their own benefits and drawbacks, and none are really considered an enrollment silver bullet that can address all enrollment needs.

Centralized Enrollment

Centralized enrollment is the process by which a user needs to complete the enrollment process in-branch. This would typically be achieved by enrolling and registering the fingerprint on a dedicated tablet or fingerprint sensor.

The enrollment process could mean that the fingerprint is stored on a database, but there is nothing to say that an in-branch solution could mirror that of a MOC scenario, using the branch as a safe and secure place to complete the process and/or offer a place to enroll for end users that do not have or cannot access an “at home” solution.

Remote Enrollment Sleeve

A remote enrollment sleeve is a standalone solution that will be delivered alongside a biometric payment card. The enrollment sleeve has an integrated battery, which provides the power required in order to capture and store the fingerprint on the card. Remote enrollment sleeves are designed for match on card use cases. The user inserts their biometric payment card into the sleeve, and it enrolls their fingerprint. In this instance, the biometric information is stored on the card and when a transaction is made, authentication is completed by ensuring that the fingerprint presented to the biometric payment card matches that which is stored within the card’s secure element.

Remote enrollment sleeves come in a variety of options, some of which are one use and disposable, and others that are more ruggedized in nature, designed for multiple uses in scenarios, where an enrollment sleeve “loan” can be established.

Many considerations are required when developing an enrollment sleeve solution, including but not limited to battery size, Light-Emitting Diode (LED) placement, or even if there is a need for an LED within a sleeve.

Mobile Enrollment

Solutions have been developed to enable a Near-Field Communication (NFC) smartphone to complete the remote enrollment process, where the biometric payment card draws the required power from the mobile device in order to enroll a person’s fingerprint on the card. This is a great example of how other technologies and devices already in circulation can help circumnavigate the requirement of an additional device and/or sleeve.

Mobile enrollment does not necessarily mean that registration has to be tied to a smartphone, as it could also be completed on other customer owned devices, including tablets, PCs, or laptops.

In-Field Enrollment

Perhaps a lesser-known enrollment process solution is one that is completed at the POS, whereby the required power to enroll a customer’s fingerprint is harnessed directly from a POS terminal. This is a newer option being explored and developed. When paired with another enrollment type, this method could provide the activation bridge for any end user that does not own or have access to another enrollment solution.

The Biometric Payment Card Should be Marketed as a Solution


Overall, enrollment is the foundational piece from which any biometric payment card is enabled. Without an enrollment process or strategy, the biometric payment card becomes unfeasible. Ensuring the correct balance between cost, security, risk, and choice will underpin enrollment strategies to ensure maximum exposure and that enrollment is capable for all. A combination of centralized, remote, mobile, and in-field applications should be considered a good combination to ensure the highest possible level of inclusivity.

On top of the enrollment piece is education, as significant marketing efforts, at least in the shorter term, are required in order to familiarize user bases with the new payment card form factor. Not only will this help with familiarity but advertising campaigns will help increase awareness and adoption, which is a strategy that has worked well for BNP Paribas.

In terms of the future, the biometric payment card will help bridge the gap between the physical and the digital via the like-for-like authentication processes, creating further synergies between both physical and digital payment platforms.

In summary, ABI Research defines the biometric payment card not as a product but as a solution, which should encompass not only the card product, but also a suite of enrollment registry solutions alongside educational marketing campaigns.

For further qualitative and quantitative analysis related to the biometric payment cards market, please visit ABI Research’s recently published Reaching the Mainstay—Biometric Payment Card Developments, Projects, and Market opportunities Application Analysis.



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