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Biometric Bank Cards Put to Test

May 3, 2017

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MasterCard has unveiled what could be the next big innovation in the way biometrics enter the mainstream. It’s been trialling biometric bank cards that can read the card owner’s fingerprint to confirm payments.


South African Trial

So far, the technology has had two trials in South Africa: one with the supermarket chain, Pick n Pay, and the other with Barclays’ African subsidiary, Absa Bank. An encrypted template of the card owner’s fingerprint is stored digitally on the bank card. When making a payment, they insert their card in a standard EMV terminal, but instead of entering a PIN, they simply rest a finger on the card’s scan reader to authenticate the payment.

President of enterprise risk and security at MasterCard, Ajay Bhalla, said:

“Consumers are increasingly experiencing the convenience and security of biometrics. Whether unlocking a smartphone or shopping online, the fingerprint is helping to deliver additional convenience and security. It’s not something that can be taken or replicated and will help our cardholders get on with their lives knowing their payments are protected.”

Breaking into the mainstream

Smartphones’ use of biometrics introduced so many new people to biometric technology. It gave them the chance and a good reason to use biometrics every day. What’s more, it clearly showed them the value of it by speeding up the unlock process. This new use of biometrics by MasterCard could have a similar effect, and show more people the power and convenience of biometric solutions, in a solution they use daily.

MasterCard says it plans to roll out the solution by the end of the year in South Africa. It adds that European and APAC trials will also commence this year. While it’s great that the cards work with standard card reader terminals, work still needs to be done to make the technology compatible with contactless solutions, something MasterCard says it is working on.

It’s an interesting development in biometric technology. We know very well the power biometrics can bring to solutions here at BioStore. When implemented responsibly and securely, they are an extremely powerful tool, and with solutions like this, more and more people will start to see that.

MasterCard: Thumbs Up: Mastercard Unveils Next Generation Biometric Card

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