A new Google Chrome flag recently uncovered hints that the popular browser may soon be adding biometric authentication for payments on Android as well as other major OSs.
The flag — titled “Allow using platform authenticators to retrieve server cards” — indicates that users will be able to “use a platform authenticator”, likely the fingerprint or face biometric scanners common among most smartphones these days, to authenticate their identity and their card rather than having to enter in the CVC number.
A Chrome flag is an experimental feature that can be activated by users by going to chrome://flags in their browser and searching through the options available to them. The feature (if it’s live, which appears to not be the case with this one) will usually require a computer restart before it will work.
The description of the flag points to it becoming available for not just Android users, but also on Mac, Windows, Linux and Chrome OS devices. When enabled users will find a new option in Chrome’s payment settings that allows them to choose “Screen Lock” as a payment confirmation step.
Once selected, the first time the user attempts to pay something via Chrome they will receive the usual pop-up asking them to enter their credit card’s CVC number, however there will also be a checkbox that says “Use screen lock to confirm cards from now on.”
This news comes almost two months after Google added support for “Windows Hello” for biometric authentication on Chrome for desktop. With Windows Hello support, Windows PC users with biometric sensors on their computers were able to start using them to authenticate.
Though biometric sensors are not yet very commonly found on laptops and desktops, their popularity has been growing rapidly over the past year. That having been said however, bringing biometric authentication support to Chrome users on other platforms including Android should impact a much wider range of users.
It should be noted that this new feature is still hidden behind a Chrome flag, and may not ever be fully implemented into Chrome, and further more has yet to actually work indicating Google will need to flip a switch on its end before the feature is live.