For many years credit card fraud has been on the increase and there has been little offered in the way of a permanent, long lasting solution.
Sure, we have chip and pin on all our cards now but that is a security device that offers far more protection to the banks and credit card companies than it does to consumers.
Is biometrics now becoming a viable solution to credit card fraud and the way forward then?
Biometric enabled credit cards could store one or more types of personally identifying information, such as facial scans, retina images or fingerprints. Theoretically, this means that the only person able to then use the credit card would be the rightful owner, the person to whom it had been specifically issued to.
Therefore, it sounds like biometrics ought to dramatically enhance credit card security. It should also be a relatively cheap system to implement.
Fingerprints would probably be the easiest piece of biometric data to incorporate into a card. They could be sampled at a bank from which the credit card was issued with the data being stored in the magnetic strip already present on all credit cards. This would keep costs low.
If such a system was implemented then purchases could be verified by the consumer placing their finger onto some kind of recognition device during the payment procedure, as the card is about to be debited. If the fingerprint matched the data in the magnetic strip then the sale would be processed as normal. If there was a mismatch then the card could not only be declined but also deactivated immediately, thereby removing the fraudsters ability to use it elsewhere.
With such a system there would be a need for databases containing fingerprint or other biometric data. This information would obviously have to be held on secure servers to which no-one outside of the card issuing company had access, remote or otherwise.
Biometrically protected credit cards would seem to offer an increased level of fraud protection then, but there are drawbacks. The storage of biometric data may well raise privacy concerns, especially with identity cards in the UK destined to hold such personal data too. Also, one can only wonder what use could be made of a biometrically enabled card should it fall into the wrong hands.