Interview with Mark Collins, TNS, on biometric payments and consumer attitudes to payments at unattended terminals

Wednesday 1 August 2018 09:01 CET | Interview

The Paypers interviewed Mark Collins, Transaction Network Services, to find out more about biometric payments adoption and consumer attitudes to payments at unattended terminals

Could you elaborate a bit on the company’s establishment 28 years ago, on its growth, and on the markets it is currently servicing? 

TNS was established in Northern Virginia, US, in 1990 and over the years has expanded initially into Europe in the mid-90s and then into Asia Pacific in the late 90s. Initially, our primary focus was the payments market, but we have also developed services supporting the telco industry, primarily in the US, and the financial markets. Regarding the payments division, our initial focus was on enabling remote devices to connect at the host. As most transactions were still gathered over paper 28 years ago, with the move to electronic terminals TNS followed the opportunity to enable technology to the benefit of the market and to give greater flexibility and control over transactions in real time and from remote locations.

Our growth has primarily been driven on making technology change easily. In the old days when someone was rolling out new terminal types using new technology, like wireless, we made that easy for them. Our differentiating factors are the levels of security we offer and compliance to all of the scheme mandates. We also provide real-time visibility and management information, which enables customers to see transactions in greater detail, for the purposes of eliminating false credit, controlling fraud, making the data capture easier and more straightforward, etc.

With the proliferation of (alternative) payment methods - tap and pay (NFC), scan and pay (QR), biometric cards - what is your view on consumer adoption and how do you see it evolving?

I have two views on this, firstly as a consumer and secondly as a participant in the industry. Adoption is accelerating in terms of new payment methods with many of these effectively set on top of existing methods. When we think about the contactless experience (Apple Pay, Samsung Pay for example), they’re essentially new methods of the old card using new technology (mobile & NFC) to speed up the transaction and make it attractive in those areas that are time and speed sensitive. Contactless is perfect for environments where people don’t like to spend too much for a certain transaction to complete. NFC, in its various guises, is already hugely successful and it largely leverages the existing rails and, as a result, the adoption at the terminal, the merchant and at the consumer has been relatively easy.

Regarding other emerging technologies (scan and pay, QR code), what we see is that they’re getting traction typically in markets where they have already become the de facto method. For example, we are seeing huge demand among Chinese consumers to use the same processes overseas that they are used to in their domestic market.

It can be difficult to establish a strong foothold in a new market and to roll out new technologies that don’t use existing rails, the global credit and debit schemes, as well as domestic. What we’re witnessing coming out of the major and emerging markets, primarily China, but also South American or African countries, will definitely force change in time.

Could you provide us with some insights related to biometric payments adoption based on your company’s internal research?

I think there is significant interest in the industry related to biometric payments due to the perceived enhanced level of security it can offer. Biometrics can help in identifying the consumers as being a match to the card or the device that they are actually using. If you look at Apple Pay and Samsung Pay in the context of contactless payments, they effectively use biometric authorisation via fingerprint. Biometric payments is definitely something that will be hugely attractive both to the industry and to the consumer, because it essentially allows for the same convenience of the Apple Pay and Samsung Pay concept, but using the actual card itself.

We have done some research across the globe, among both men and women, old and young. What we’ve seen is that the concept of using biometrics in any shape or form is very well received, we reckon in our research that more than 50% welcome the concept. However, it is interesting to know that more than 61% are concerned about security, they are worried about data breaches and the behaviour of companies, not necessarily in the payments industry, that very personal data could be abused. I believe the industry will have to tackle these concerns, to be very strong in the affirmation of their use, the methods and the control of that data to make sure people can use the technologies and be rest assured that they will not have any of their data compromised. I think the key is not only that we have to be providing that protection, but we need evidence of it on a regular basis. Our research shows a very positive reaction to the concept of biometrics, highlights concerns about the control of our personal information and does point in favour of fingerprint against iris, vein or any other biometric identifier.

TNS launched a report that explores consumer attitudes and experiences with making payments at unattended terminals. Can you provide us with a few results of this report?

We conducted a global survey with an equal percentage of men and women, across various age profiles, and found out that while there is strong desire to enable alternatives to cash in vending, not surprisingly cards remain the primary need alongside cash. Wearables and smartphones use are increasing and since we did our last research 2 years ago, we have seen a significant increase in the proportion of the community that would be willing or is ready to use smartphones to conduct their unattended transactions. Our research now points to 37% of the community being prepared to do so.

One very interesting statistic that we see in the UK is the one third growth in the proportion of people who use their card or alternative payment methods to order food or drinks from machines. Another interesting fact is that unattended will continue to become more relevant in managing payments, not just from the provider’s point of view, but from the consumer’s also. Our research shows that consumers are very comfortable with the concept of using unattended terminals: 42% of the consumers prefer to use unattended terminals for ticketing, for those under 44 that percentage increases to 53%. This is an interesting social view: more than half of people under 34 prefer not to interact with someone when they are buying their tickets; they would rather work with the machine. In terms of the security and data concerns, the general consent is that the situation is improving and more than 60% see unattended terminals as having some security risk, but are still comfortable of the concept of using them.

About Mark Collins

Mark Collins is Managing Director of TNS’ FinTech Solutions business in Europe, which includes offices in the UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy and Germany. Mark drives all sales and business activity in his region and is part of TNS’ leadership team, which is responsible for setting TNS’ strategic direction and implementing its vision.

About Transaction Network Services (TNS)

Transaction Network Services (TNS) has been a trusted provider to the Payments industry for over 25 years. TNS’ broad portfolio of solutions includes secure and resilient transaction delivery services, used by many of the top banks, transaction processors and ATM deployers around the world.

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Keywords: Mark Collins, Transaction Network Services, biometric payments, unattended terminals, scheme mandates, QR code, APMs, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, biometric cards, NFC, China, Africa
Countries: World