Mastercard's new fingerprint sensor payment card has already been trialled in South Africa, with highly positive results

Biometric Payment Card Launched

posted by Paul Fiddian | 27.04.2017

Mastercard Combines Fingerprinting with Chip Technology

Mastercard launches new hi-tech card that, with its biometric features, ‘conveniently and safely verifies the cardholder’s identity for in-store purchases’,

Financial services company Mastercard has introduced a state-of-the-art fingerprint sensor-based payment card.

Taking today’s fingerprint-scanning systems to the next level, it’s intended for worldwide use.

Blending fingerprinting with chip technology, the next-generation biometric payment platform ‘conveniently and safely verify the cardholder’s identity for in-store purchases’, Mastercard says in its late April news release.

Biometric Card

Fingerprint Sensor Card

Mastercard has already trialled this fingerprint sensor card in South Africa. There, a pair of tests were run involving – separately – Barclays Africa subsidiary Absa Bank and prominent retail group Pick n Pay. These went very well, officials have since confirmed.

“We are delighted that this innovation has been trialled for the first time at Pick n Pay stores in South Africa”, deputy CEO Richard van Rensburg enthused. “We have been extremely impressed with the robust and secure nature of the technology.”

“We are very proud to be the first bank in Africa to test - in a real payment environment - the single-touch authentication technology that will unlock the benefits of biometrics”, added Absa Retail and Business Banking’s card and payments head, Geoff Lee. “The technology will effectively enable our customers to rely on their unique fingerprints to make payments in a face-to-face environment. Following the test period, we will make it available to our customers in a way that is affordable, reliable, and convenient and, most importantly, extremely secure.”

Mastercard Biometrics

So, how does the Mastercard biometric payment card work? Cardholders initially register it with their bank etc. In so doing, they generate a digital template of their fingerprint that the card stores.

Retail purchases are made by inserting the card into the terminal as usual. The difference is that a finger is placed and kept on the card’s integrated sensor, which is positioned on its top right corner. This sensor scans the finger in real-time. Verification is dependent on this scanned image exactly matching the stored one. Positive authentication allows the payment to proceed, the customer having hold of the card throughout.

What are this card’s benefits? According to Mastercard, they include:

  • Unique cardholder verification enablement
  • No upgrades to present day EMV (Europay, Mastercard, Visa) card infrastructure being needed
  • Reduced cost
  • Enhanced customer loyalty potential

“Consumers are increasingly experiencing the convenience and security of biometrics”, explained Mastercard’s enterprise risk and security president, Ajay Bhalla. “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.”

A contactless version of this card is planned for the future. More immediately will come trials in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

Images copyright Mastercard News – courtesy Flickr

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