A few merchants may begin using fingerprint scans to authenticate electronic transactions within the next year, and the practice could spread significantly in three to four years, a vendor says.

Biometrics, as the technology’s called, moved closer to the mainstream recently when Apple included the capability in its new iPhone 5S, says Jason Swenk, chief innovation officer at Payscape Advisors, an Atlanta-based payments technology company.

Understanding biometrics and helping merchants deploy it could help independent sales organizations and sales agents differentiate themselves from competitors, Swenk suggests.

“You always have your mobile phone,” Swenk notes, ready for a biometrics transaction. “All your information is stored there.”

Using biometrics adds another layer of security, while also improving the customer experience by making transactions quicker, he says.

Swenk views Near Field Communication as the best technology for biometrics because it’s quickest, followed by Quick-Response Codes as the second choice and using a website as third.

Apple chooses not to make iPhones NFC-compatible, but Swenk predicts that will change with subsequent iterations.

Many of the payments terminals sold these days have NFC chips, he notes.

“Many of the stores we’re seeing popping up in Atlanta and all over the country that are on the cutting edge are using laptops and Macs and PCs versus the old, traditional terminal,” Swenk says. “Some are even using iPads and iPhones and other mobile devices.”

Apps for mobile-to-mobile payments can upgrade mobile devices to accept biometric payments and thus alleviate the need to replace the devices, he says.

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