Fingerprint-enabled payment cards to make debut at Bank of Cyprus

Bank of Cyprus will become the first bank in the world to offer biometric identification within its payment cards.

Bank of Cyprus (BOC) is set to launch the world’s first commercial EMV payment card with a built-in fingerprint sensor as part of a partnership with technology provider Gemalto.

The biometric payment card is compatible with existing payment terminals in the country and will allow users to authenticate their identity by pressing their finger to the embedded scanner, rather than having to enter a PIN into the terminal.

When they do this, a comparison is made between the scanned fingerprint and the reference biometric data that is securely stored within the card. Unlike contactless payments, which also do away with the need for PIN entry, there will be no limit on the value of transactions made via the method.

The solution is based on Gemalto’s principle that in order to ensure security, a payment card should never have to leave a user’s hand. As the card is powered by the payment terminal, it does not require an embedded battery, so there will be no limit on the number of transactions that can be performed.

Bertrand Knopf, executive vice-president of banking and payment at Gemalto, said the card is designed to ensure maximum security and privacy for the end-user, while also allowing consumers to enjoy even greater convenience when they make purchases.

“Using biometrics for contactless payments is a natural move as it fits in naturally with the gesture used to pay,” Mr Knopf said. “It allows a better user experience, enabling higher transaction amounts without entering a PIN while benefiting from the convenience of contactless.”

To obtain a biometric payment card, BOC customers will first have to visit a branch, where they will undergo a swift enrolment process that captures their fingerprint and activates the card. This is done via a specially-designed tablet device to ensure there is no over-the-air transfer of sensitive personally-identifiable information.

Stelios Trachonitis, card center manager at BOC, added: “Our customers will benefit from this innovative payment solution with the peace of mind that their biometric data never leaves their hands.”

Written by Jack Dougal