With trials of FingoPay – a technology which validates payments based on the veins in your finger – being rolled out this month, biometric style-security could soon be coming to a supermarket near you.

Great you may think; no need to carry cash or even a contactless credit card around. The days of deciding how much money to take to festivals, clubs or the beach will be gone. You won’t be able to lose money having your wallet stolen and memorising passwords and pin codes will be a thing of the past.

But before we fast forward too quickly and get swept away by this utopian cash-free future, let’s take a minute to stop and think about what this means for our personal data, security and privacy.

While companies are surging ahead in embracing new technologies like fingerprint scanning and the use of our veins as unique pass codes, are we the customers really ready, and comfortable, to accept the implications of this type of change?

We know how disastrous the consequences are when personal data is leaked – and recent breaches mean the public’s trust in those holding our data is at an all-time low – but the implications of losing biometric data are even more extreme. We need to understand the safeguards that are in place and that our data is both handled and stored with the highest ethical and security values.

If biometric security is to work for businesses they need to get customers onside early on – they must build trust.  This means making the case clearly for how personal information will be safeguarded.  Total transparency is required to demonstrate that due diligence has been done and the case needs to be put to the consumer to let them choose this biometric form of validation in an informed way – rather than this becoming the new norm by stealth or worse still the only available option.

If companies are to take full advantage of these new creative ideas they need to remember that putting the customer first extends from purely a fantastic user experience to the often more mundane – but no less important – operational issues like data storage and usage. 

Technology, and advances in it, particularly fintech is a wonderful thing – let’s be sure to keep attitudes towards it that way.  Make the case upfront and avoid another Care.data-style calamity.  

If you’re interested in signing up to the ethical use of data then check out the Market Research Society’s Fair Data policy and apply for its ICO-endorsed trust mark.  

Emma Molton headshot

Emma Molton is a director at Camargue. 

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