Credit Card Payments: Give Them the Finger Instead

By: Andy Adams

In 2002 a supermarket chain, Thriftway in Washington, USA introduced a new scheme that allowed customers to pay for their shopping in a different, simpler method. Once shoppers sign up they can pay at the tills using just their finger, specifically their fingerprint.

It's an inventive solution to credit card fraud in that since all fingerprints are unique it would make them very hard to be used fraudulently. Once the customer has scanned their fingerprint they are then prompted to select which of the credit cards they have registered to their profile to use.

Three years later and Thriftway's President Paul Kapioski has pronounced the scheme a great success, not only that but the process has attracted much more business through it's doors as word spread. He even stated someone drove 400 miles to use the technology!

Mr Kapioski also stated that the added security of using biometrics had seen many people feel more secure especially senior citizens, who welcomed not having to carry money around with them. Whilst it was still in its infancy back then Mr Kapioski assured that in the two and a half years that there had not been a single fraudulent transaction on the system, a great win against fraud with credit cards.

The concern about implementing such an advanced system was that not enough customers would join to make it worthwhile, far from it. The 60 day trial of the system had to be made permanent almost straight away with most customers signing up straight away. In an age where we're more concerned about who has our personal data and what they do with it the public were very receptive of this scheme and has since become a standard practice with the supermarket chain accounting for 30% of electronic payments..

The main driving factor for the new payment process was cost, far from being too expensive to use it actually helped save valuable cents off credit cards and debit card electronic transactions. Whilst customers were receiving of this technology the move towards RFID (Radio frequency identification) has some consumers concerned about what their personal information is being used on and can be sceptical. Analysts believe that new technology should be marketed correctly and sold to the public highlighting the benefits such as in this scheme.

So with the added security and convenience this method of paying for goods with credit cards should help build confidence and ease of use for the card holder and with Paul Kapioski speaking at a recent Retail Fraud Conference in London it looks like we may see this kind of scheme this side of the Atlantic in the near future.

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