Introducing the Natural Security Alliance… Chairman Jean-Pierre Viboud (Group CEO – Oney Banque Accord) speaks about the world’s first association dedicated to wireless biometric authentication and biometrics as an alternative payment options…

Why was the Alliance formed?

Biometrics is part of the authentication of the future, and to accelerate the use of biometric systems it is important to have the same standard and specifications that can be openly used by all companies. So we created the Alliance for all professionals in the payments eco-system who are interested in biometrics and new payment systems, to provide a place where they can share and develop ideas for an open standard.

Why is now the right time for the Alliance?

There is a revolution happening in payment systems with the proposal of alternative payment methods to replace plastic cards and PINs. We believe that biometrics underpins the strongest alternative payment options, and the technology making it possible to use biometrics for authentication is ready now. Our research and technology pilots also tell us that consumers are ready to give their biometric as a method of authenticating payments. So now is the time when the work of the Alliance can really impact the future.

What are the key missions of the Natural Security Alliance?

The key missions, for me, are to first acquire members from all areas of the payment eco-system, and secondly to educate and evangelise consumers and professionals on the new standard relating to strong authentication. Ultimately, we want to encourage the development of products using the Natural Security standard. This includes licensing manufacturers of products using the standard, fulfilling requirements of the market with the evolution of the specifications, and building an interoperability strategy, incorporating a test and certification scheme for the standard.

What is unique about this Alliance?

The Alliance is the only place where professionals from all areas of the payments eco-system can be involved with defining the standards and communal specifications for a new authentication method.

What is the structure of the Alliance?

We have a steering committee and working groups, which will have professionals from all areas of the payments chain including banks, retailers, card schemes and service providers. They are working on different topics including the internet of things, EMV for withdrawals, EMV based face-to-face payment, online authentication and mobile payments. The working groups will evolve depending on requests from members and pertinent industry issues. Our aim is that the mix of professionals in working groups will collaboratively develop the standards and write the specifications.

Why is the Alliance so important for the payments, retail and banking industries?

We think that authentication and interoperability are the two pillars of the payments industry. Retailers and banks in particular require strong authentication because of the increasing variety and volume of identity, payments and online fraud. For any new technology, interoperability is also essential to ensure compatibility with existing systems and adoption across the board. By delivering universal specifications available for all manufacturers, banks and service providers, the Alliance will address any authentication and interoperability issues likely to occur with biometric authentication methods.

Which sectors and user groups will benefit most from the work of the Alliance?

Since Natural Security launched in 2008 we’ve invested € 25million in the development of the first standards and testing processes. This is a big part of the overall development process, and a great benefit for manufacturers that would usually have to make their own major resource investments to do this.

All members will also benefit from the marketing actions of the Natural Security Alliance and the opportunities for sharing and collaboration with other industry professionals. The Alliance is unique in that not only will everyone be able to use the standard immediately, they can be reassured that all other members will also be working with the same specifications, making collaborations and technology investments simpler now and in the future.

How will the work of the Alliance benefit consumers?

Our ultimate aim is to develop a convenient solution that will be used by the general public for payment, physical access, and IT access, with particular consideration for security and the privacy rules that exist in different countries across the world. We already have the capabilities to offer solutions for consumers. We have been testing the solution in a hypermarket in the north of France and it’s great to see that people are interested in using this type of biometric authentication.

What is your vision for the payments industry and how does the Alliance fit within this?

I think that in the future biometrics will be used for payments because it answers the need of retailers, banks and consumers. Current demands mean we need to provide a very efficient and new user experience but also to increase the level of security of new technology. There has been a lot of talk surrounding mobile wallets, for example, but these need to be developed further based on the requirements from retailers and banks. This is why the Natural Security standard has been developed based on the requirements of the different stakeholders and the Alliance has been formed to collaboratively bring the new authentication method to the market.

Where do you see the Alliance in 5 years?

In five years I hope that all the card schemes, the banks, the manufacturers and the retailers will have joined the Alliance and that our standards and specifications will be used by everyone developing and using biometric systems for payment, logical access or IT access around the world.