Mastercard trials biometric cards

Many people are already familiar with using biometrics in their day-to-day lives, whether it’s through using their fingerprint to unlock their phones or using their voice to prove their identity for telephone banking.

It’s a technology that is expected to become increasingly common over the coming years, particularly in the financial services industry.

One influential brand that is putting its weight behind biometrics is Mastercard, which recently unveiled its next-generation biometric card. The product combines fingerprints with chip technology to provide an extra layer of security for in-store purchases.

It builds on the fingerprint-scanning technology already used for mobile payments and can be used at EMV payment terminals around the world.

The system works by having cardholders register with their provider and submit their fingerprint, which is converted into an encrypted digital format and stored on the card.

When making an in-store purchase, the individual enters their card into the payment terminal while placing their finger on an embedded sensor to verify their biometric data against that stored on the card.

Mastercard said this innovation offers advantages for various parties, including stronger security for cardholders. Issuers could benefit from better fraud detection, improved approval rates and reduced operational costs.

Ajay Bhalla, president of enterprise risk and security at the global financial services group, 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.”

A trial is now underway in South Africa with supermarket retailer Pick n Pay and Absa Bank, a subsidiary of Barclays Africa.

Developments over the next few years will provide a clearer idea of whether biometrics could prove just as influential a technology for the payments market as NFC and contactless have been in recent years.


Image: iStock/Rawpixel

Written by Jack Dougal

Jack Dougal

Jack Dougal is's resident news reporter. He writes regular blogs covering the latest stories and key developments in the global financial services industry.

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