Mastercard Is Testing A Biometric Card That Uses Fingerprint Scanning Technology


Mastercard has recently unveiled its next generation biometric card, which combines chip technology with fingerprints to conveniently and safely verify the cardholder’s identity for purchases. The new card builds on fingerprint scanning technology used for mobile payments today and can be used at EMV terminals worldwide.

A cardholder enrolls their card by simply registering with their financial institution. Upon registration, their fingerprint is converted into an encrypted digital template that is stored on the card. The card is now ready to be used at any EMV card terminal globally. When shopping and paying in-store, the biometric card works like any other chip card. The cardholder simply dips the card into a retailer’s terminal while placing their finger on the embedded sensor. The fingerprint is verified against the template and – if the biometrics match – the cardholder is successfully authenticated and the transaction can then be approved with the card never leaving the consumer’s hand.

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The clear and obvious benefit of authenticating a payment transaction biometrically – in this instance via a fingerprint – is that it confirms in a very unique way that the person using the card is the genuine cardholder. Additionally, a future version of the card will feature contactless technology, adding to the simplicity and convenience at checkout.

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Mastercard’s President of Enterprise Risk and Security, Ajay Bhalla, said in a press statement “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.”

Mastercard has announced that the biometric card has concluded two trial runs in South Africa. The trials ran with Pick n Pay, a leading supermarket retailer in the country, and Absa Bank, a subsidiary of Barclays Africa. Over the next few months, more trials will be conducted in South Africa, and full roll out is expected later this year.

Additional trials are also being planned in Europe and Asia Pacific in the coming months.

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