Beyond science fiction: PayPal and Samsung to launch payment by fingerprint

PayPal and Samsung are extending their collaboration with a new biometric feature that will allow users of the new Galaxy S5 smartphone to use fingerprint authentication for mobile payments with PayPal merchants.

PayPal says that this is a major innovation in m-payment, introducing a new level of convenience for consumers compared to the familiar login-and-password authentication model.

However Eden Zoller, principal analyst at Ovum believes consumers will take some convincing.

"We think consumer will be wary and need some convincing due to security concerns. Consumers are already worried about the security of established m-payment mechanisms are likely to view a new technology and process with suspicion."

In Ovum's 2013 Consumer Insights Survey, almost half the survey respondents (49%) ranked lack of security as their priority concern with mobile payments.

However it's likely that the powerful partnership will work in their favour. "On the positive side, well known consumer brand Samsung is a hugely popular smartphone with global reach and PayPal is a trusted payment service provider, That is a powerful combination." Zoller says, "PayPal is stressing that fingerprint authentication is a secure feature based on a FIDO-ready software implementation with all credentials stores remotely in the cloud."

PayPal is the first member of the FIDO Alliance to produce a solution of this kind; other members including Google and Microsoft.

PayPal fingerprint authentication will go live on the Samsung Galaxy S5 in 26 markets this April. PayPal expects more device manufacturers to adopt the technology going forward.