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December 6th, 2016 by


Biometric payments are set to change the way we pay for things. Whether it be in the real world or online.

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What Exactly Are Biometric Payments?

Biometric payments use biometric authentication* to identify you as the user and then authorise the deduction of funds from a bank account.

The most common biometric payment method is fingerprint payments, which is based on fingerprint scanning.

It usually works by using two-factor authentication to secure the transaction. And then replaces your card swipe with a fingerprint scan.

FNB, Ahead Of The Rest

Biometric payments are still relatively new in South Africa. With FNB being the only major financial institution to embrace this technology.

This service is available to FNB clients with version 5 of the FNB app on their Android smartphones. With the app, FNB Pay lets you purchase goods below R200 without swiping your card. 

In order to use FNB Pay, you need to have an NFC enabled Android smartphone and the latest version of the app installed.

Once you’ve registered for FNB Pay, which can be done in the app, you simply tap your phone against the payment terminal in the store. You then approve the transaction by pressing your finger against the fingerprint scanner on your phone.

FNB might be the only South African bank to embrace biometric payments, but they’re by no means the only company to look at biometrics as a means of payment.

Apple And Samsung’s Stance

Globally, tech companies have been leading the charge when it comes to biometric payments. With giants such as Apple and Samsung at the forefront.

Neither Apple nor Samsung have released their own device-specific biometric payments platforms. Namely, Apple Pay for iPhone users and Samsung Pay for Samsung users. But, Samsung has stated that Samsung Pay is expected to launch in South Africa in 2017.

According to information, Samsung Pay is currently being tested and is expected to be launched in South Africa in either Q2 or Q3 of 2017.

Apple has made no comment as to when Apple Pay might launch in the country.

Visa And Mastercard

Visa and Mastercard are also invested in biometric payments in South Africa. With both companies working alongside PASA (Payments Association of South Africa) to create an interoperable biometric specification.

“To support wide adoption, it is equally important that solutions are scalable and based on open standards. Building on the current standards, this provides a common, interoperable foundation, as well as encourages innovation in cutting-edge biometric solutions,” added James Simpson, Country Manager for Visa in South Africa.

According to PRASA, “The specification enables a range of biometric solutions, from fingerprint verification to palm, voice, iris, or facial biometrics. The architecture Mastercard and Visa has designed enables biometric forms, such as fingerprints, to be securely accepted by a biometric reader, encrypted, and then validated.”

Soon, you’ll be able to go into stores (and online) and pay for your goods using your fingerprint. Something that’s sure to be a bit of a novelty as it starts gaining traction in the country.                                        

  • James

    I am sure PRASA (Passenger Railway Agency of South Africa) would be very surprised to read they involved in biometrics. I think the writer meant PASA which is the Payments Association of South Africa.