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As reported by The Morning Advertiser in August, customers at XYZ Social in Manchester will be giving cash payments the finger from October after the venue unveiled a partnership with biometrics payment provider Fingopay– the first of its kind in the UK.
Using Fingopay’s veinID technology, customers will be able to link their finger vein signature with credit and debit cards to take advantage of what’s being hailed by some as the fastest and safest payment method on the market.
Discussing why Fingopay – founded in 2016 by Nick Dryden in his attempt to find a quicker and easier way for revellers to make payments at music festivals – presents a better alternative to cash or card payments, the company’s chief marketing officer Simon Binns told The Morning Advertiser: “‘Convenience’ is the one-word answer.
“It’s more convenient to not have to carry cash, cards, a mobile with you all the time. Losing cards and having to reorder them is frustrating, your smartphone can run out of battery and cash is a bit of a hassle and is restrictive. We’re about creating a simpler, speedier, more secure way to pay.
“We scan [customers’ finger veins] using infrared light, link it to an account and a payment type, like card and you can pay anywhere. Ultimately, payments are being digitised – with Apple Pay, for example, you’re tokenising a card and putting it on your phone.
“What we’re effectively doing is using that technology to store payment information on the cloud and enabling customers to link to that account by scanning their vein pattern. Using both biometric matching technology and what the industry is doing around tokenisation we’re creating a new type of product which is paying just using a biometric."
Making on-trade transactions more valuable
Binns hopes that the number of sites using Fingopay’s finger vein payments – which integrate into existing till systems - will creep into double digits at the start of next year, with Manchester the focal point of the company’s rollout for the time being.
“We've had lots of conversations with pub and bar owners,” he explains. “They're interested in speed of service and reducing queues at peak times and age verification – it's cast iron proof that the person is the age that they say they are without forcing everyone to carry ID all the time.
“The third area is in offering loyalty – you can create a virtual loyalty scheme so you don't need a card and can offer incentives with different brands and connect offers and promotions. It opens up a whole raft of customer relationship opportunities without having to do anything but register and scan a finger.
“We are able to capture everything that the individual has bought and link it to the individual themselves to understand the pattern of purchase and, assuming the individual has opted into receive marketing offers, they can get very relevant, tailored offers to incentivise and reward them. All of that adds up to making every transaction more valuable and more rewarding for the end user.”
“Age verification is probably the thing that has excited the pub community most,” Binns adds. “We know that whenever we've done pilot schemes, when people start to use it, it becomes a habit. The idea is that it’s a unified solution – your payment, facial ID card – it's solving a lot of problems with one thing.
“With the ID piece, particularly with a lot of 18 to 25-year-olds in the premises, operators find at least couple of ID cards, passports and driving licences behind the bar at the end of the night and there's a massive admin task in reuniting the passport with the individual who has lost it.
“Taking the potential fraud out of driving licence and ID cards and putting a fail-safe, reliable, secure biometric in their place has massive benefits. We're actively working with the licensing authorities, and with the police, to make the registration process as safe and reliable as possible.”
Are the days of cash payments numbered?
According to UK Finance, 2017 was a landmark year in payment methodology as the value of card transactions overtook cash for the first time in history – £13.2bn to £13.1bn.
But how long does Binns think cash has left as a payment method?: “It's variable,” he explains. “There's an interesting statistic around where you are in the country – apparently the further north you go, the happier people are to pay with cash. Further south, you get people who have already moved to digital payments more quickly.
“It's a habit. I think the new generation are much more likely to not use cash and card payments but use digital and biometric payments like Fingopay. Who can put a date on it? It's a gradual move but new technology, and the easier and more convenient we make it, will make the migration away from cash happen more quickly.”