Visa reckons Australians will warm up to payments via IoT

While many remain concerned about the security of connected devices, a growing number of Australians are getting comfortable with the idea of paying via the Internet of Things.
Written by Tas Bindi, Contributor

Australians are gradually warming up to the idea of making payments via IoT, as long as they can use biometrics for authentication, according to a new study sponsored by global payments company Visa.

More than a quarter of Australians, 29 percent, are comfortable with the idea of using internet-connected devices, such as a virtual assistants or smart fridges, to make payments on their behalf.

The figure, which is up from 12 percent in September 2016, is despite the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) finding that 71 percent of IoT devices and services used by Australians failed to adequately explain how personal information was collected, used, and disclosed. Privacy and security standards are also yet to be established in Australia.

The Visa-sponsored YouGov study, which surveyed 500 Australians in May, found that more than half of respondents, 56 percent, indicated they would rather use fingerprints, voice, or retina scans than PINs when making payments. Increased security was selected as one of the reasons for adopting biometrics by 45 percent of the Australians surveyed, while 40 percent identified the convenience of not having to remember a PIN or password.

However, less than half, or 39 percent, of respondents indicated that they are willing to share their personal information in exchange for convenience.

According to Visa, many new payment methods are enabled by the use of biometrics as authentication.

Stephen Karpin, group country manager for Visa Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific, said Australia is "on the brink of a new era of commerce".

"As the Internet of Things and biometric capabilities become integrated into our everyday experiences, we'll experience a significant shift in how payments are made," Karpin said in a statement.

"In our lifetime, we will see infinitely more choice in how Australians pay, from watches, fridges, and mobile phones, to eyes and fingers. And we'll experience personalisation that we never thought possible, powered by artificial intelligence."

At present, there are more than 3 billion Visa cards accepted at 44 million merchant locations. With the proliferation of connected devices, Visa predicts there will be 30 billion different ways of paying across 400 million physical and digital acceptance points.

"This hesitance to share personal information in exchange for convenience is an important insight," Karpin said.

"At Visa, we believe in responsible innovation -- that is, ensuring that security is built in from the start and that no new technology or capability comprises the integrity of the payments ecosystem.

"Australians are sophisticated adopters of technology and it's essential that we continue to assure them of the security of their information and identity."

Earlier this year, payments technology company Worldpay prototyped a solution that brings EMV-style payments into virtual reality environments.

The prototype design uses host card emulation to virtualise the purchasing process, meaning that for purchases up to AU$100 in Australia or £30 in Britain, consumers will be able to use a virtual controller to hover their virtual card over a virtual card terminal -- similar to the contactless payment systems Australian and British consumers are now accustomed to.

For higher value purchases, Worldpay has created AirPIN, which allows the consumer to see a range of numbers whilst immersed in the VR environment, and then collect the four numbers that make up their PIN using their virtual controller.

However, a study of 2,000 Australian consumers by the London Stock Exchange-listed company found that 48 percent would not make a purchase via VR today due to cost of headsets and perceived lack of security.

About a third indicated they could be swayed if they could use PayPal (39 percent), fingerprint scanning (35 percent), retina scanning (31 percent), or a secret code (30 percent) to make payments in VR environments.

In March, Brett Beranek, director for product strategy at speech software firm Nuance, told ZDNet that voice biometrics for authentication will become the norm in Australia.

"There will be an expectation that technology is able to recognise who we are and skip over the authentication process -- and PIN, password, and security questions would just be a thing of the past," Beranek said.

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