Published On: Thu, Sep 7th, 2017

Biometrics on the march across Africa

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the Payment Association of South Africa (Pasa) published an interoperability standard for biometric authentication on payment cards.

Until then, the use of biometrics by banks had been limited to operations in their own branches or for use on their own services. The new standard opens the way to using cards with biometric identification – whether in the form of fingerprint, palm, voice, iris or facial biometrics – across the banking system. It will also allow banks to exchange payment instructions with each other via biometrics.

Pasa CEO Walter Volker said: “Biometrics have been around for many years, but they have never been adopted in the payment space. This unlocks network effects, as consumers are not ‘locked’ in a bank or a tech provider.”

Judging by the results of opinion polls, the general public backs the move both for the increased security and the ease of use. Capitec Bank is already working with the Department of Home Affairs to create a biometric database to tackle identity fraud to “make it much harder for criminals to commit fraud against Capitec Bank customers.”

In October, First National Bank (FNB) unveiled its new mobile app for both Apple and Android users, which uses fingerprint-enabled logins. FNB Chief Executive Jacques Celliers commented: “The intuitive new features of App 5.0 are a clear demonstration of how we are prioritising customer needs. This platform also puts us in a much better position to continue capitalising on the seamless convergence of banking and telecoms, to produce integrated solutions.”

The FNB app also gives private and premier banking customers the option to use Secure Chat to discuss their finances directly with a member of staff. Banks have to tackle fraud but also confront competition from other sources, including telecoms providers. more AB