Contactless payments have been one of FinTech’s most prized innovation, silently growing in popularity within all types of commerce and shopping, with the pandemic skyrocketing its adoption across the board.
As such, facial recognition for payments is on track to become the new norm of payment methods as the number of users of software-based facial recognition to secure payments will exceed 1.4 billion globally by 2025, from just 671 million in 2020, a new study by Juniper Research found.
This rapid growth of 120 percent demonstrates how widespread facial recognition has become; fueled by its low barriers to entry, a front-facing camera and appropriate software.
“We identified the implementation of FaceID by Apple as accelerating the growth of the wider facial recognition market, despite the challenges to facial recognition during the pandemic with face mask use,” the research highlighted.
Seeing that technological innovation tend to trickle down toward other uses, all indications point toward the inevitable growth toward facial recognition for payments.
However, researchers at Juniper recommend that facial recognition vendors implement robust and rapidly evolving AI‑based verification checks to ensure the validity of user identity, or risk losing user trust in the authentication method as spoofing attempts increase.
Fingerprint sensors dominant, facial recognition growing
The new research – called ‘Mobile Payment Authentication: Biometrics, Regulation & Market Forecasts 2021-2025’ – found that fingerprint sensors will feature on 93 percent of biometrically equipped smartphones in 2025.
This compares favorably to hardware-based facial recognition, with just 17 percent of biometrically equipped smartphones featuring these capabilities in 2025.
“Hardware-based facial recognition is growing, but the ability to carry out facial recognition via software is limiting its adoption rate. As the need for a secure mobile authentication environment grows, smartphone vendors will need to increasingly turn to more robust hardware-based systems to keep pace with fraudsters’ evolving tactics,” research co-author Susan Morrow explained.
Voice recognition for payments growing, but limited in scope
In parallel, the report also found that the use of voice recognition for payments is increasing, from 111 million users in 2020, to over 704 million in 2025. The research identified that, at present, voice recognition is mostly used in banking, and will struggle to grow beyond this, due to concerns around robustness.
“Juniper Research recommends that vendors adopt a multi-method biometric strategy, which encompasses facial recognition, fingerprints, voice and behavioral indicators to ensure a secure payment environment,” the report authors noted.
MTN Rwanda launches mobile money FinTech services
MTN Rwanda announced late last week the launch of a FinTech subsidiary called Mobile Money Rwanda LTTD, to provide and manage mobile money services throughout the country.
The announcement – which was made as the operator received approval from National Bank of Rwanda to launch the FinTech service – also places Chantal Kagame as its Chief Executive Officer to drive business development, strategy, innovation, and day to day operations of the company.
According to a statement by the South African courier, the setting up of Mobile Money Rwanda Ltd is in line with MTN Rwanda’s strategy to lead digital solutions while contributing to the national economic strategy on enhancing cashless transactions that offer convenience and security to all Rwandans.
“We are very glad to announce the establishment of Mobile Money Rwanda Ltd as a wholly owned subsidiary of MTN Rwanda. One of the key pillars in our strategy is to establish platforms that our customers find valuable. This restructure will ensure that the Mobile Money business remains agile, well poised for future growth and accelerated innovation. Mobile Money has matured over the last ten years in Rwanda, and this marks a pivotal milestone in our journey toward a cashless economy,” MTN Rwanda CEO, Mitwa Ng’ambi said in a statement when speaking about the new standalone firm.
In parallel, Kagame highlighted the company’s commitment to enhance the MoMo user experience and keep innovating products and services aligned with their digital ambition.
“The transition process to a standalone business has now kicked off and we look forward to cementing Mobile Money Rwanda Ltd as a key FinTech player in the Rwandan market,” she added.
The South African-based telco already provides FinTech services under the name of MoMo, a service that has been in operation since 2010. According to figures by the company, MTN currently boasts about six million subscribers.
MTN claims the largest market and value share in the increasingly competitive telecoms sector of Rwanda.
The announcement comes in line with MTN’s ambition to expand within the large African market, as the courier placed a bid to receive an operating license in Ethiopia, as the country looks to liberalize its telecoms sector and digitize its economy.
Prior to Chantal’s appointment, she held the role of Chief Business and Corporate Affairs Officer since she joined MTN in 2018. She is a senior Telecom Executive with over 19 years of experience in Multinational Telecommunications.
She has a track record of excellent achievement in areas of Executive Leadership, Sales and Distribution, Mobile Financial Services, Strategy Development and Execution, Corporate Affairs and Credit Management.
Prior to joining MTN Rwanda, Chantal was the Deputy CEO/COO at Tigo Rwanda for 3 years and Head of Sales, Distribution and Corporate Affairs at the same company from 2011 to 2015.
The establishment of Mobile Money Rwanda Ltd does not in any way affect nor change the delivery of services to current Mobile Money customers. Mobile Money customers will continue to enjoy access to the wide range of MoMo products and services, the over 30,000 Mobile Money agents and 60,000 MoMoPay merchants across the country.
MTN foresees an even brighter future to further expand and deepen its offerings to the public in line with Rwanda’s vision to become a fully cashless economy.
UK to explore Central Bank digital currency
The Bank of England and the British Treasury have announced the joint creation of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) Taskforce to coordinate the exploration of a potential new form of digital money issued by the Bank of England and for use by households and businesses.
While the announcement was made by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak as part of the UK Government’s response to the Kalifa Review, the new digital currency would be alongside cash and bank deposits, rather than replacing them.
Aims of the task force
In addition, the Taskforce aims to ensure a strategic approach is adopted between the UK authorities as they explore the digital currency, in line with their statutory objectives, and to promote close coordination between them. The Taskforce will:
- Guide evaluation of the design features a digital currency must display to achieve our goals.
- Coordinate exploration of the objectives, use cases, opportunities, and risks of a potential UK CBDC.
- Support a rigorous, coherent, and comprehensive assessment of the overall case for a UK CBDC.
- Monitor international CBDC developments to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of global innovation.
The Taskforce will be co-chaired by Deputy Governor for Financial Stability at the Bank of England, Jon Cunliffe, and the Treasury’s Director General of Financial Services, Katharine Braddick.
Commenting on the announcement, John Whelan, MD Digital Investment Bank & Innovation, Banco Santander expressed his excitement “to see this development from the Bank of England supporting the opportunity to use tokenized cash assets on next generation payment systems, enabling on-chain wholesale exchange of value.”
In parallel, the Bank of England announced the establishment of a CBDC Unit, which will lead its internal exploration around the currency, as well as leading the Bank’s external engagement on CBDC, including with other UK and international authorities.
Banks searching for digital currency
“We’re launching a new taskforce between the Treasury and the Bank of England to coordinate exploratory work on a potential central bank digital currency (CBDC),” British finance minister Rishi Sunak told a financial industry conference.
Other central banks are also looking at whether to set up digital versions of their own currencies, essentially widening access to central bank funds which only commercial banks can use at present. This process would speed up domestic and foreign payments and reduce financial stability risks.
While China is a front-runner to launch a CBDC, the European Central Bank said it was studying an electronic form of cash to complement banknotes and coins, but any launch was still several years away.
Bitcoin millionaire puts money on Greens in German election
A German software developer who made a fortune from bitcoin has given the environmentalist Green Party one of the biggest political donations in the country’s history in hopes it will win this year’s national election — and consider banning the digital currency.
Moritz Schmidt’s donation of 1 million euros ($1.2 million) to the Greens made headlines this month, as the party traditionally receives only small sums. Such a large gift is rare in German politics. Parties in the country receive most of their funding from members’ dues and state aid linked to election results.
“I have benefitted immensely from the bitcoin bubble. It’s been a wild ride, and the proceeds are unearned riches really,” Schmidt told The Associated Press in an email interview this week. “I’ve been sort of waiting for the right opportunity to donate a larger sum.”
The 39-year-old from the northeastern town of Greifswald, who hadn’t previously featured on any lists of major political donors, said he bought “a couple thousand euros” worth of bitcoin in 2011, shortly before it crashed, wiping 90% off the value of his holdings. Since then, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have repeatedly surged and slumped on investors hoping to turn a quick profit.
The value of a single bitcoin has dropped from over $64,000 to about $50,000 in the past ten days.
Schmidt, who made about 2 million euros ($2.4 million) by gradually selling his bitcoin over the years, said he learned in 2017 that the virtual currency consumes a vast amount of electricity. While the details are hotly debated by bitcoin fans and critics, experts say the power required to generate and trade cryptocurrencies is considerable.
“Being an energy hog is built into the bitcoin system,” said Schmidt.
The Greens advocate strong environmental policies to curb greenhouse gas emissions and fend off the threat of climate change.
Schmidt, who is cautious about the Greens’ prospects of winning the election outright despite their current high poll ratings, says he decided to help fund their campaign rather than donate toward an environmental project because “giving it to a political party that has environmentalism as its core value will have a much bigger impact.”
The Greens nominated 40-year-old lawmaker Annalena Baerbock as their candidate Monday to succeed long-time conservative leader Angela Merkel as chancellor in the Sept. 26 election. While the party doesn’t mention bitcoin’s environmental footprint in its program, it does want such currencies to be “traceable” — making bitcoin less attractive to many of its fans.
“I don’t think regulation will do anything unless it crashes the price down to levels that make bitcoin uninteresting as an asset and unusable as a global currency,” said Schmidt. “I believe that, in effect, bitcoin will need to be banned.”
Schmidt dismissed comments that suggested he might be trying to redeem himself for having traded in the cryptocurrency.
“Had I looked for absolution, I’d have turned to the Catholic Church,” he said.
BERLIN (AP) — By FRANK JORDANS Associated Press
Follow AP’s coverage of climate change: https://apnews.com/Climate
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