The European Central Bank (ECB) has published the findings of the report it commissioned on citizens’ payment habits and attitudes towards digital payments, and found strong support for those powered by biometrics.
Conducted from October to December 2021, the research aims to help the ECB better understand user preferences and is part of the Bank’s Digital Euro project.
The report’s findings indicate a preference among chat groups and online communities in all Eurozone countries to use payment methods that offer pan-European reach as well as universal acceptance in physical and online stores.
Additionally, a significant proportion of respondents said they prefer solutions that are convenient, quick and easy to use.
In terms of security, many respondents said they were happy to rely on biometric methods of payment verification, including those using fingerprint, face and iris scanning technology, rather than over legacy authentication methods such as PINs and passwords.
“Fingerprint and iris scanning were particularly appealing to tech-savvy people, with some participants raising the issue of facial ID not working in the Covid-19 era of mask-wearing,” the report said.
Additionally, participants aged 25-54 also mentioned that they would like to use biometrics in conjunction with a passcode, reflecting the realization that two-factor authentication (2FA) is more secure.
“Tech savvy, in particular, favored biometric authentication for small quantities, but would like a one-password approach for larger purchases and for online purchases.”
Ideally, the report explains, the wallet would learn these authorization rules when used, so it could request additional verification under the right circumstances.
However, most participants didn’t like the idea of multi-channel authentication because “it was seen as a cumbersome procedure for users to switch from app to text etc.”
In this regard, the most popular format choice for a potential digital wallet by ECB was a smartphone or a smartwatch, but some respondents mentioned everyday items such as jewelry or glasses, and even the implantation of a chip in their body.
“Tech-savvy people, in particular, were drawn to options that would allow them to carry no wallets or cards at all.”
The report’s findings will feed into the ongoing investigation phase of the digital euro, which is expected to end in October 2023.
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