mCommerce Month: The New Ways to Pay

Thanks to advances in connectivity, NFC, mobility and strong authentication, the world is undergoing a major shift when it comes to how shopping is done. New disruptive payment models have given consumers a taste of exactly how convenient the process of paying for goods and services can be. Now, with a demand for easy and safe financial transactions, we are beginning to see new ways to pay emerge in order to satiate the public’s hunger for secure convenience.

Today, as part of mCommerce Month – undertaken in concert with Financial Biometrics Month at our sister site FindBiometrics – we are going to examine some of the new and exciting ways we can pay, now that mobile identity has so strongly converged with commerce.

On Your Phone

Mobile payments, online banking.At this point in time, mCommerce is practically synonymous with smartphone based mobile wallets. In spring of 2014 we saw the first rumblings of this trend with the news that PayPal would allow for payment transactions to be authenticated using the fingerprint sensor on the just then released Samsung Galaxy S5. Months later, during the annual September Apple keynote, Tim Cook officially announced the long rumored Apple Pay mobile wallet, which allows for point of sale retail transactions via iPhone.

Now, Apple Pay is no longer the only major player in the smartphone mobile wallet space, with Samsung Pay and Android Pay both having been launched in the past few months. Even Microsoft is keen to enter the fray, recently indicating that it is revamping its Windows Wallet app, which could potentially leverage the new generation Lumia smartphones’ iris recognition capabilities for transaction authentication.

Whether it’s online or in real life, the convenience presented by the top tier smartphone mobile wallets is formidable. In a brick and mortar retail space, Apple Pay and Android Pay provide the ease of an NFC tap creditcard, while giving you access to all of your connected accounts and the privacy of new tokenization technologies, while Samsung Pay actually can function on magstripe readers thanks to its LoopPay technology. Online, the ease of being able to authenticate payments with a fingerprint is arguably even more revolutionary, addressing the long running user interface issue on mobile devices, which are not optimized for the traditional QWERTY keyboard input method used across the Internet.

With Your Wearable

59243102_thumbnailWearable tech has made its way into the mobile payments space too. Apple Pay, for instance is designed to allow for NFC payments to be made via the Apple Pay account on the tethered iPhone. This manages to make the act of payment even more convenient from a device location standpoint, as the transaction can be authorized on a user’s wrist. However, with the lack of biometric authentication features on the smartwatch itself, moving up a level in one area brings you down in another. Apple Pay on the Apple Watch requires a PIN to be entered before a purchase, a snag that will hopefully become outmoded as biometric authentication becomes more ubiquitous on wearables.

Of course, the Apple Watch isn’t the only game in town when it comes to wearable payments, and there is at least one specific technology that has it beat in terms of convenience and security. The Nymi Band, from Toronto biometrics company Nymi, is a wearable wristband that can authenticate a user persistently via her unique heartbeat signature, offering among other conveniences the ability to make secure payments with the tap of a wrist.

The Nymi Band is an example of the kind of innovation we can expect to see in the world of wearable payments, as the wrist mounted wallet competes with the one in your pocket.

From Your Car

visa car dashboardWith the Internet of Things expanding our definitions of convenience, connectivity and security, we are beginning to look at every machine a little bit differently in terms of what it is capable of, and that broad statement includes the personal automobile. With the advent of the smart car (or connected car depending on your preference for nomenclature) our perspective on the role of a vehicle is evolving to include payments.

Recently, a partnership between Visa and Accenture lead to the development of a contactless payment solution built into the console of a smart car. Reporting on the innovation, Mobile ID World’s Alex Perala wrote:

While the smart car sports advanced features such as driver-focused behavioral analytics and GPS-based location services, helping drivers to find preferred gas stations, the integration of digital payments proved to be ingeniously straightforward: Users simply tap the dashboard to authenticate NFC-enabled payments. According to the companies, the system even lets drivers place orders from the comfort of the car, allowing them to authenticate and pay from the driver’s seat.

As of that announcement, the payment authentication is unspecific, though there are a number of biometrics solutions that can allow for strong authentication in the smart car. Synaptics’ Natural ID fingerprint sensors can potentially be built into a car’s steering wheel, voice authentication solutions often employed in hands-free in-car applications can also do the job, and even new seat belt tech can verify a driver’s ID via cardiac readings.

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