Sberbank Moves to Launch Biometric Payments

The largest lender and digital innovation leader in Russia, state-owned Sberbank, will test payments with fingerprints and face recognition without the use of payment cards or gadgets, Vedomosti reported.

Since October 2018, reports have suggested that Sberbank considers developing its own biometric platform that would compete with the Bank of Russia’s United Biometric System (EBS). The bank ramped up investment in speech recognition start-ups and started collecting biometric samples from its clients.

According to the bank, testing pre-registration terminals will be installed in partner shops, which would allow Sberbank customers to provide a biometric sample for future cardless payments, or use the sample already affiliated with his or her account. No further details were provided.

Vedomosti wrote that Sberbank has launched a tender on acquiring biometric terminals and software in 2019. Previously, in 2016, the bank tested fingerprint payments in 20 Azbuka Vkusa premium food stores, with about 400 frequent users of the payment option.

Another Sberbank biometric projects include Ladoshki (Little Palms) which would inform the parents on children entering and leaving the school, and allow for biometric payment of school lunches. The bank also tests face identification by ATMs.

Analysts surveyed by the business newspaper note that while currently Sberbank and central bank’s EBS are competing for collecting the widest biometric sample database, the lender could beat the regulator by faster launching of the services actually involving the biometric data and motivating the clients to use them.